Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Soccer is better than…

I was indoctrinated into the world of soccer last year after moving to a new house and receiving a new cable package. Before last year I thought soccer ranked somewhere below gymnastics and figure skating on my ranking of sports. My wife turned on the soccer channel to have something on the TV that my daughter would not necessarily watch or wouldn’t mind her watching.

The match featured Manchester United and somehow, someway I was suddenly hooked on soccer…or at least Manchester United soccer. There is still a dramatic difference between European and American soccer leagues. The MSL teams seem to move in slow motion and look like grade school teams at times compared to the faster paced and more refined English teams. It’s no wonder that an elder Beckham can come here and still show up most of the players.

So did soccer shoot its way to the top of my list? Hell no! I admit it is fun to watch Manchester United games and I admit that United are the Yankees of the English leagues in that they will spend an obsessive amount of money on players and not blink an eye. But soccer still cannot compare to the NFL, MLB and College Basketball. I would say that it is my top 5 right now rivaling the NHL.

Soccer cannot compete with the major professional leagues in the US, meaning the NFL, MLB and NBA. Most soccer teams are lucky to score two goals in a game, so over 90 minutes there can be a lot of action but not always a lot of thrills as compared to football or baseball. That is why I can normally only watch Manchester United games since I have an interest in the outcome unlike a NFL or MLB game which I can turn on and watch regardless of the teams playing.

Yet there is one aspect of the European soccer leagues that I wish American leagues have and that is relegation. For those of you new to soccer, that means if you team finishes at the bottom of your league, you get sent down a level. For the Premier League, the bottom three teams move down a level to the League Championship while three teams from the lower league move up to the Premier League.

Apply this to, say the NFL, and Miami, St. Louis and Atlanta would be out while three new teams would be in. Personally I think it would give meaning to the season ending games and would keep teams from “tanking” in order to get a better draft pick. Of course this could never work in American sports league because no owner would ever agree to that and the way the leagues are structured totally prevent this from occurring.

In baseball, all of the minor league teams have associations with Major League teams and they would have a much harder time if they were all on their own. It could make things more interesting but you could have many teams going under. There are no minor leagues in football and basketball the way there is in baseball, so there are no teams to take the place of a relegated team.

People have speculated for several years about whether a crappy team is tanking or at least not trying to win as hard in order to move up in the draft. Some studies have shown that there seems to be at least a small correlation between teams at the bottom of a league finishing poorer than statistics say they should have. The Miami Dolphins did suck last year, but I bet there would have been a little more emphasis to win if the team and the owners knew they would not be in the NFL for the 2008 season if they finished where they did.

Since relegation cannot and will not happen in the foreseeable future in US sports, but I wouldn’t mind seeing some variation making owners more responsible for the performance of their teams and giving the league the right to take over a team if the performance fell below a specified level over a given length of time. I know…dream on.

So…there are still several sports that are better than soccer, but soccer does do a few things right that in my opinion would make some of our sports here in the US a little more exciting. We reward teams for doing badly for the sake of parity. Is parity a good thing for sports? Well that will have to wait for another day.

Good luck to Manchester United tomorrow versus Chelsea in the Champions League Final in Moscow. Go Red Devils!

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Blogger Slut Bunwalla said...

By the way, belated congratulations to the Red Devils for their championship.

Not sure how I feel about penalty kicks deciding a title game, though...

June 3, 2008 at 12:00 PM  
Blogger Oswald Simpson said...

Ok, so it's a bit late (you'll have to excuse me--I've been drowning my Ginobili-injury-Spurs-defeat-induced sorrows in various lovely red wines), but one thing I can tell you for sure is this: Man U are a pack of skirt-wearing, cocksucking fucktards. They are to Premiership football what the Yankees are to American baseball--namely, the shit-brained assbags whom everyone hates with a passion that burns only slightly cooler than the fire in Rooney's VD-addled cock. Fuck Man U.

Oh, and fuck you.



June 3, 2008 at 10:45 PM  
Blogger Lom Henn said...

And I thought I was supposed to be the rude one...

June 3, 2008 at 11:58 PM  

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