XFL-wary sports shows

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NEW YORK

If the NBC-WWF football league joint venture XFL does take off as planned next year, will sports-news shows treat it as a legitimate league and report the results of its games? ESPN is taking a wait-and-see attitude, says a spokesman.

The cable sports channel has reported XFL events as they've developed, including the formation of the league and the hiring of Dick Butkus to coach its Chicago franchise. But as to reporting its weekly results when the games begin, that will depend.

"If fan interest is high and the quality of the football is professional, we'll continue to cover it," says the spokesman. "But if the fans lose interest and it turns out to be more like wrestling than football, we probably won't cover it."

CNN/SI is treating the league as a breaking news story. It was the first to report last week that the XFL will hire former Dallas Cowboy Drew Pearson as general manager of its New York franchise (no comment from the XFL).

FOX SportsNet has covered XFL developments from the start, and sources there say the plan is to cover the league week in and week out once play begins.

"If it turns out to be a circus, we'll stop," the source says, "but if it's what they say it is, we'll cover it."

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