Sunday, January 26, 2003

Interesting essay from Brian Micklethwait over at Samizada on NFL parity and comparing it to big-time soccer in England
Parity is achieved by such devices as imposing a "salary cap" on all the teams, so that they must basically all spend the same amount on player salaries, and by giving the worst teams last year the pick of the following year's best new players. I don't like this. As Hawley says, it drains the meaning out of things. Maybe Americans are religious. Maybe that's it. If God can't fix life, he can at least, in the person of the NFL, be made to fix American football to give everyone an equal chance. Maybe that's what going on.
It's strange that the least PC of the big American sports (you could make a case for hockey being even less PC) is also the most socialist, with most revinue being shared and the draft and salary cap allowing the weak teams to retool and have the money to do it. Compare that with big-time soccer
In English football ("soccer" – which, I learned the other day, is because our football is As-SOC-iation Football) the rule is: to them that have shall be given. If you get to be Manchester United, or Arsenal, or Liverpool, it's because you are based in a great and ancient city with a past glorious enough to have assembled a decent number of people to buy the season tickets and the shirts and the merchandise, and because with that foundation you also did everything else right as well. You built a good stadium. You bought good players and not just overpriced big names. You gelled your team of multi-national internationals into a team of team players, and when you got to the top you didn't get complacent but kept on improving. You have a good youth set-up. You find a really good manager, and you stick by him through bad patches.
Translate "Manchester United, or Arsenal, or Liverpool" to "Yankees, Braves and Dimondbacks", drop the "and ancient" and change "youth set-up" to "farm system" and you've got the current state of baseball pretty darn cold.

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