Tuesday, May 17, 2011

of sports and such

So, the majority of the major sports leagues are winding down... Manchester United just won its 19th Premier league trophy, congrats. Barcelona are again doing the business in the Spanish league, while in Italy, it's AC Milan again.

I know most of the world has a love of soccer (football) bordering on the fanatic. Here it's always the usual suspects, people will support Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea or (shock & horror) Liverpool. People who genuinely support other teams are usually looked upon with disdain and a sneer, as if to say, "what has your team won lately?". Seriously, if it borders on the hostile or snobbish, then I really don't see any enjoyment in following such a sport.

Many people are simply glory seekers. They only want to support a team that wins things. I don't really count these as genuine fans. For example, before Chelsea became the mega-millionaire club that they are now and started winning the Premiership, how many fans did they really have over in Malaysia? I know I had a friend who was one, and I never heard of any others until... a certain billionaire bought the club and as they say, the rest is history. Now you can see Chelsea jerseys being worn all over the place. Only when they started winning things...

I am an Everton FC fan. I know they haven't won anything since 1995. But I still hold them dear in my heart, and have ever since the 80s, even when they were not doing well and almost relegated. I answer questions of "Why? They're not that great a team" or even "Who are they?" with a smile and "that's just who I am."

Which brings me to the main topic of this post... in European soccer, trophies are almost always won by the same teams, over and over again, year after year. Seriously, it's getting boring. In fact, it is already boring. If you had asked me at the beginning of the year, who would win the league, I'd have simply rolled a dice and taken a pick between Man Utd, Chelsea or Arsenal. And true enough, these three have taken the top three spots in the Premiership, again. Spanish league, just flip a coin. Barcelona or Real Madrid. Similar situation for the Italian Serie A.

I'm starting to think that an American style salary cap might be good. Stop clubs from foolishly spending transfers and wages they can't afford (several clubs almost disappeared entirely because of this). Make it a level playing field for all clubs. Every club can only spend this much on salaries a year. That way, you never really know who will be winning the league that year. With this kind of system, who knows, maybe even one day a lesser known club could win the league. I know this will never happen because the powers that be, the powers behind the super-big clubs, will never allow this to happen because they want to maintain their status at the top of the pile.

Which is why, I still love ice hockey. I still follow the NHL. I wholeheartedly support the Vancouver Canucks (for obvious reasons). In the NHL, your team can do badly one season. It's okay. They get preferential treatment to recruit fresh talent. They can rebuild. And with that, they can make the next season one to remember. Any team can win the Stanley Cup (the ultimate prize at the end of the NHL season). I'm hoping this year to be Vancouver's year. It's about time. But the point is... at the beginning of the year, you can never really tell who's going to be up there at the end of the season. You never know whether a particular team will make the playoffs or not. It's a whole lot more exciting because you never know what can happen.

Here's to hoping that Vancouver can win it all this season. In the words of the Everton FC motto, "Nil Satis Nisi Optimum"

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