Monday, May 15, 2006

You Win Again

A british friend once asked me to explain the draft system that we have in all major sports in America. He seemed surprised that professional athletes hoping to enter sports leagues are forced to sign a contract with the team that chooses them, regardless of which team they may prefer. This is once of the most interesting facets of American labor law. I don't think I did very well at explaining the reasons behind it, but the most basic defense is league parity. The worst teams get first crack at the best new players entering the league, thus the Saints (winners of 3 games last year) can select Reggie Bush when the Texans (2 wins) fail to remove their thumb from their ass.

But here's a dreadful article from ESPN that really misses a great chance to talk about the draft system. The first half talks about the lack of parity in many European football (soccer) leagues:
Chelsea, Lyon, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and PSV all kept hold of their championship titles with matches to spare - and Juventus are in pole position to make it a clean sweep when Serie A concludes next weekend.

And the deeper you scratch, the more unsavory the statistics become.

Lyon's success was their fifth successive Ligue 1 title. PSV have now won the Eredivisie four times in the last six years, Bayern have celebrated the Bundesliga title for seven of the last ten seasons. Juventus stand on the brink of their fourth championship in five years.

Meanwhile, in Greece, Olympiakos have now won nine of the last ten Alpha Ethniki titles. In neighbouring Turkey, Fenerbah├že stand on the brink of their third-successive Super League triumph.
I think he's off to a good start because that is interesting data. But here's his pitiful explanation for the current state of affairs:
But how did all this happen?

It happened because football has been stolen from the fans by a deceitful, shadowy cartel of money-mongers and the most humiliating thing of all is that they did so right under our noses.

While we gazed with open mouths and wide eyes at the circus freaks parading in front of us, we didn't realize that they had an army of shifty little cronies walking amongst the crowd, picking our pockets.
This is the most insightful answer you can produce for this issue? Seriously? The same teams keep winning year after year because . . . the owners are capitalists trying to turn a profit on their businesses? I can't understand this at all. The author exposes an interesting issue, but then can't come remotely close to shedding light on the problem, or attempt to posit a solution. The analysis is so bad I don't even understand the point. No names, no examples, no evidence. What are you trying to say?

I know most of you don't care about soccer, much less a bad article written about soccer. But blogs are not just about informing, they're about venting. And I needed to vent on this shit "journalism."
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