Barclay’s Premier LeagueMay 11, 2011
About time to get off that black coffee study diet and onto that Whiiite. Big events happened in the sporting world since my last post — the Masters, the NFL draft and lockout, the NBA and NHL playoffs and MLB season started, Kentucky Derby, and, most importantly, India won the Cricket World Cup — but law school doesn’t allow much time for blogging. I’ll now take my pretentious cap off and give you 3 reasons why you should care about perhaps the best domestic sports league in the world, the English Premier League (yes, Greg, that’s soccer.)
Machismo and soccer are not bedfellows in American culture; contrarily, men all over the world consider watching soccer as manly as Americans do drinking Bud Light and watching football every Sunday. In England (and elsewhere not named America), soccer pride acts as a pretense for fanboys of rival clubs to, put it politely, beat the shit out of each other. Each club has one or more firms (groups of fans) who organize (and erupt in spontaneous) brawls with firms of other clubs. Anyone familiar with the movie Green Street Hooligans has seen a fictional depiction of “soccer hooliganism.” (Fan or not of soccer, you should watch this movie.)
The inside of the stadium usually sounds like an acapella concert, with the entire stadium participating in chants and songs with intermittent applause for the action on the field.
The passion and outrage English fans have for their soccer clubs makes Raiders fans look pusillanimous (I learned that word this week; look it up, it’s good). If the American Dream doesn’t work out for you, you can always move to England and become a hooligan. (Or to Portland where fans of the MLS Club Timbers have adopted the European model of fandom and applied it to their kooky town’s professional soccer team.)
American sports fans are familiar with the calls of the simple Marv Albert, the excitable Gus Johnson, and the pompous Jim Nantz. Local sports broadcasting has legends like Vin Scully, Walt Frazier, and Jack Edwards. Likewise, announcers of the EPL make watching the Beautiful Game, well, beautiful.
Seriously, listening to EPL announcers in your basement makes you feel like you’re watching Henry David Thoreau read poetry on Walden Pond. A color commentator exclaimed “Arsenal have invited Chelsea right back into the eye of the title storm” after a recent match. Commentators regularly refer to players as “class” and passes as “majestic.” Spanish announcers have the ubiquitous and gaudy GOOOLLLLLLLLL call, but the British elegance (in accent and lingo) makes for a pleasurable viewing experience.
In American sports, teams that do poorly are rewarded with high draft picks or a higher chance of getting a high draft pick. In England, the three teams that fare worst in points at the end of the season get relegated out of the Premier League into the secondary league; teams that fare well in the lower leagues move up (domestic soccer leagues all over Europe have similar relegation structures).
Imagine how dope it would be to see Kevin Love and the Timberwolves get sent to the D-League and the Reno Bighorns move into their spot? Or the Eagles get relegated to the Canadian Football League forever? It would certainly make for interesting television towards the end of the season since teams wouldn’t throw games for a higher draft pick.
I tried to relegate the bottom 2 out of our 14 team fantasy football league to no avail (word of advice: don’t have a league of more than 12). America needs more relegation in all things.
This list is not exhaustive; there are many other reasons (quality of players, loan system, capitalism) to watch the EPL, but these seem the most interesting for American fans.
Unless the NFLPA and owners (or American justice system) lift the impending NFL lockout, this fall looks bleak for sports fans. Pick a team and hop on the English Premier League bandwagon. (Go Manchester City.)