Monday, November 3, 2008

European Football's Intrinsic Finality

AMSL gets Scholastic on Yo' Ass

Not to continually harp on about the advantages of the home-and-away, three-up, three-down, points-takes-all European league structure, but this weekend in the Premier League illustrates why it is superior MLS's play-off-seeking regular season.

Sport always moves to an end, a telos, usually winning a trophy. In MLS, the telos is clear: the MLS Cup. As wikipedia neatly explains:

The 2008 Major League Soccer season ran from March 29 to October 26. The 14 teams in the league are divided into the Eastern and Western Conferences, each with seven teams. Each team plays 30 games over the course of 31 weeks, evenly divided between home and away matches. Each team plays every other team twice, home and away, for a total of 26 games. The remaining four games are intra-conference matches, often highlighting geographic and conference rivalries. The 2008 MLS Cup Playoffs will run from October 30 to November 23, culminating with MLS Cup 2008 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, California.

Within this structure, some games are fundamentally more important than others i.e. the play-off intra-conference matches.

By contrast, every league game in Europe counts, and can go toward any number of possible ends: promotion, relegation, UEFA Cup or Champions League qualification. This weekend saw Hull fight valiantly back against Manchester United, Stoke strip points off 'favoured' Arsenal, and last-place Tottenham undeservedly storm back to beat then first-place Liverpool. While jouralists often attempt to proide a temporal arc to the season -- depth, the January collapse, the April push -- mathematically the Premier League is won and lost with each and every fixture.

Therefore, this weekend in England, with its upsets, collapses and comebacks, is as much a part of the final outcome as the first weekend in May: there is no exterior telos, no sporting singularity like a post-season cup final. Something the MLS might want to consider, else it becomes the graveyard for the Freddie Ljunbergs of the world, grateful for the chance to 'relax' a bit in the 'regular' season.

1 comment:

Steve said...

They had to appeal to the North American market, although I don't agree with it what so ever I know that's what the MLS was trying to achieve, like the Stanley Cup Play-offs, World Series and SuperBowl.