Semi-pro: SPF League Breaks It Down

Semi-pro football - how much do we really know about it? Football in Europe is getting compared to the high-school level of football in The States, however, when it comes to pure facts and the level of organization - semi-pro seems closer.

We sat down with the president of one of the semi-pro leagues in the US -  Adonnis Howard of SPF, who managed to break it down into pieces for all of us Europeans, and help us understand how semi-pro leagues and teams function.

When thinking of football most think NFL. However there's a whole football world out there. I've been a quarterback for 14 years, and now, after winning the 2012. championship, I've decided to retire, and use my energy and experience in helping the league grow. 

Now, the real work comes in when you need to recruit teams. Luckily, a lot of teams are interested, and all are on a pretty high level. We want to focus on having good competition. Recruiting teams is simple - you need to show what your league can offer and what are the benefits for teams on joining your league which is focusing on teams that are based in the region of New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio. 

Our league starts in July and is done by late October. Leagues are organized just like any other National League in Europe.

Level of team organization is pretty much like in Europe. Most think that anyone can join the team - but, that's not the case. Teams organize tryouts, just like teams in EU. In semi-pro, players pay a certain fee to their teams, and are not payed to play - as in, they don't receive a salary. 

Most teams don't own a field, and they're forced to rent. Now, that's not cheap - prices vary, however, for a decent high-school stadium you can pay anywhere from $800 up to $2,000+. Also, during winter, indoor facility is a must, and again, that's also something you must rent. If a team is struggling with the budget - players usually chip in and split the cost of the indoor facility rent.

When a semi-pro team wins a championship, they didn't hit the ceiling. Semi-pro teams that win championships play each other. 

Indoor Facility
There have been a lot of rumors. Players are like this or that. We check the players background, if the player spent some time in jail - we're not there to judge, but to listen! If he does well on the draft, and if he's ready to move on and make a better life for himself - of course that we're there to support him. That's what a team does. No matter the continent.

Players are very well aware of the fact that they are role models. And by that being said, these men try to do their best in representing the sport and helping the community.

Community Work
Teams do a lot of community work. My (now former) team - Monroe County Sting (Rochester, NY) throws an annual Christmas breakfast with Santa. What we do is organize a breakfast a week before Christmas, and we have families in need come to the Breakfast with Santa, where we all have fun, eat and give the lil ones presents. 

Also, we have Holiday Day Parade - where the team goes to the city center, talk to the kids, and just have fun. We basically help out in any way we can - and we're definitely trying to do our best in giving back to the community while showing that we're not just football players.

Coaching Staff, Monroe County Sting
Politics and Sponsorship
Politics are not really involved with the semi pro football, which is a good thing. American semi pro team boards seek sponsorship like any other team in Europe. Promoting the sponsor is the same as well. 

A lot of semi-pro players had a chance to play overseas. We don't get a lot of information about football in Europe, but, guys who played in Europe tend to pass on the information. Some of our leagues player who had a chance to play overseas, and who were on the same team, but different season, are JB Brown (Helped take his team Royal Crowns to DIV 1), and David Akins (Helped his team Royal Crowns winning the 3rd place of DIV 1 in Serbia). 

Pros & Cons
For this part, we reached out to Derrick Davis, Monroe County Sting WR. 

Derrick: The cons are that we do not get paid to play, some of us do not have health insurance, not a lot of exposure to the media and community. The pros are to play the game you love, very family oriented, being able to travel different places competing and seeing teammates go off to school to continue their careers.

Monroe County Sting, out of 14 years, we won 10 titles. And like any other team - we had our ups and downs, especially this season, but at the end of the day, we all came together in a very short period of time and won the championship as a team. And that's all that matters - working together as a team.

You must follow your dreams! If there's something you love - continue it, continue it with passion! - Adonnis Howard

Mia Bajin