It’s another ho-hum EPL season ending!

April 22, 2011

by Tola Adenle 

Pay no heed to how “intriguing” the “race” for the Barclays English Premier League (EPL) has “once again” become because there really is never any race.  Oh, yeah, may be there is if you consider the League is made up of three teams Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United (ManU) with, these days –sort of – an interchangeable fourth from Liverpool, Manchester City and Redknap’s Spurs.   As the League winds its way down to another – yawn, yawn – season, ManU looks set to keep the trophy unless the referees decide to lock out the boys from the Cathedral at City of Manchester where ManU fanatics worship every Sunday.  Ever since the English upper class found how to calm the working class by providing avenues to spend their spare time when the drudgery of their lives was lessened with shorter working week, fanatic following of teams have been the rage.

Allow me to disclose my loyalty right away:  Arsenal playing has mesmerized me, like millions the world over, especially since the time of Henry although I did follow Leeds for many years through its relegation and the wickedness of the weird calculations the FA used to arrive at Leeds’ sort of double relegation. Needless to recall here the unnecessary – believe me – red card that sent Leeds’ Viduka off and, of course, the “Leeds till I die” on the body of that weeping little boy that must have broken more than a few hearts.  After six years in two bush leagues, Leeds is now poised to – at least – end the season as one of the top in the league or, if the stars align properly, their position to play in the playoff may get them back in the Premier League and if it happens, better use of cash in acquisition of players would keep them in the EPL, the cash league.

I mention the case of Leeds as one of the reasons that I’ve become tired of watching football.  Happily, I love many sports and I’m not, therefore, starved of what to watch. By the way, Leeds “of all clubs”?  I do not follow a team because it’s doing well or it’s popular.  A brother attended the University of Leeds for postgraduate studies in the 50s and that’s enough for me just as my basketball choices are along what may be called ‘arbitrary’ by many.  I’ve followed Chicago since Jordan became a Bulls and before their victory runs which means I’ve always supported ANY team that plays against a team that would be a stumbling block to the Bulls!  I hate New York with a passion and always support Washington from its Bullets Days in the 70s when I actually went to a couple of matches to its present underachieving Wizard days which may soon end with its ownership by Michael Jordan.

No, this essay has not derailed.

I’m no longer interested in the EPL because what is sports without suspense? We know those who would never be relegated, thanks to deft refereeing just as I told many that Newcastle would not last beyond a year in the Championships.  I once offered an uncalled for suggestion that EPL follow the American system that does not give room to the same teams winning year in, year out, in an essay, “The church is alive and well at football cathedrals” in England.  At the start of each season in American football, Basketball, etcetera, it is difficult to say which team would win a season although the likely tops are known based on their performances the previous year.  Add to this the playoff system after the grueling regular season that eventually throws up a winner and surprising winners often show up but perhaps the most important item in the mix that keeps American sports team renewed year in, year out is the college draft system.

Now, I do not believe a kid needs college – the university – to learn how to play football, basketball or any other sport but the draft throws up the really good kids annually and the best always go to the weakest teams.  Without the draft, Jordan would probably have played at storied Lakers or the Celtics.  In addition, there are salary caps that prevent the type of madness in the EPL.  The basketball league, the NBA, for example, shares money from its big ad income with poorer teams and a situation of a kid signing a five-year contract with Arsenal only to turn round after two years and start crying, I want to go to Barca/ManU/Chelsea does not arise.

Who will win the EPL?  Yawn, yawn, I still pick ManU although referees could ensure Chelsea muscles through but trust Ferguson to holler every call and play victimhood.  Who cares?  Not me – unless Arsenal can pull it off!

Class – in football as in the life of the English – is alive and well.



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