English Football Structure Makes Sense
English Soccer Model Better Than American Pro Sports Structure
Right now in numerous places in England, soccer (or football if you wish) fans are sitting and waiting anxiously as the professional season comes to a close. But unlike American pro sport, the excitement is not only for those in major league cities. In England the set up is different.
Years ago my brother served in the US Navy and while touring Europe he met a young girl from Middlesbrough England. They fell in love and although they never quite made it as a romantic couple, they have stayed in touch for years. Thus started my affinity for all things Middlesbrough including its pro soccer team. recently this interest has become a bit of a passion as I have watched the second tier Boro squad try its best to gain promotion into the big time English Premier League.
Last season they were one game away but lost to Norwich City in a playoff game. This year they are in position to advance with only two games to go. I have no doubt the Boro fans are in a frenzy in the hopes that they along with two other squads can change places with the lowest three squads in Premier.
You see this is how English professional soccer works. At years end three teams gain promotion and three teams are relegated. Imagine if you will how that might look here in the States.
In the NBA for instance, the Philadelphia 76ers have just finished another year of epic futility. They have lost at such a rate so as to be regular fodder for sportscaster and comedians alike. Their reward? A great shot at winning the lottery and gaining the first pick in the amateur draft. So essentially in America we have in place a system that rewards teams for poor performance. ironically in the land of capitalism we allow essential socialism by giving advantage to those who are not succeeding.
But what if we had minor leagues that functioned as they do in England? What if we had several leagues of pro basketball teams each a little lower in skill level than the other? Perhaps the 2nd division league would have teams in places like Seattle, Louisville or Nashville. Then, every year those teams could compete to be promoted to the NBA while the lagging franchises would be sent to the tier down. Perhaps the Sixers get relegated while the Nashville Musicians let's say earn their way into the big time.
No longer would teams do poorly on purpose. The penalty would be much too great. Additionally, cities with fans all over the map would have real hope to someday be home to a major league franchise. An owner could start a team in Columbus OH and enter at the lowest level, but then earn promotion from one tier to the next until finally a matchup with the NY Knicks (if they haven't been relegated by then) would be a reality.
In so many places across England the dream is alive and well. With only a handful of games to go promotion is a real possibility for franchises looking to battle it out with ManU one of these days. For Burnley, Brighton, and Middlesbrough the dream is an eyelash away. Two of the three will go on for sure while the other will have a chance in a four team playoff between the teams in places 3-6 at regular season' send.
Meanwhile check out the excitement in your city for this years NBA playoffs. Unless you live in Cleveland or San Fran or San Antonio, it is likely not very much. If you live in Milwaukee or New York your only excitement is for a lottery ball to bounce your way. If you live in Seattle your only excitement is in dreaming the Sonics return. If you live in Louisville only the though of expansion or relocation gets you going.
Of course, our nation would never turn to the English model. It would be too crazy, too radical, too open market. The owners who currently have franchises would never risk having a billion dollar brand become tarnished by becoming minor league. So we will be stuck as always with teams like the Sixers who blow it on purpose and reap the benefits from doing so. Yeah for us.