take on

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Senior Member
Hello everyone,

From the book 99: Stories of the Game by Wayne Gretzky:

"The twelve-team hockey league was the idea of American promoters Dennis Murphy and Gary Davidson, both from California. They’d seen it done in 1960, when the American Football League was formed to take on the NFL, and were directly involved in the American Basketball Association when it took on the NBA in 1967."

Does "take on" mean challenge/become a competitor?

take - WordReference.com Dictionary of English

to accept as a challenge or opponent:
weren't afraid to take on big business.
[~ + object + on]"I'm not afraid to take the champ on!'' the boxer shouted.

But since the text is talking about new leagues, it should be the other way round, i.e. not accept an opponent, but become an opponent, right?

Thank you.
  • PaulQ

    English - England
    to take on -> to compete [directly] against; to accept as a challenge or opponent;
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