Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Those darn Commies in the NFL

Daniel Gross over at Slate points to the long-running saga of Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer's attempt to buy Manchester United Football Club. This saga has become increasingly bitter. I like this article for a lot of reasons -- I don't want to see this corporate raider take over Man. U, any more than I wanted to see Rupert Murdoch buy the club a few years ago ... and I'm definitely not a Man. U supporter (I'm not even English). I'm not sure why, but my reaction might have something to do with the persistent notion I have that the Yanks (including ex-Aussie Yanks) should just stay the hell away from European football (just as Europeans should flee from "American Football"). It's like worlds colliding. Anyway, the most compelling point about this article is not about Glazer, or Man. U, or the Premier League itself, but rather the comparison it makes between NFL and the English game. This point's been made before, but it bears repeating:

    The NFL is socialism for billionaires, with revenue splitting and a salary cap. The enforced parity ensures that a few teams don't dominate the league year after year. By comparison, [English] soccer is a class-based system. The clubs are sorted into different divisions. There is no salary cap. And the wealthiest and biggest clubs—Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool—constitute a sort of permanent nobility.

Yes, on one level it sounds like a load of bollocks, but it retains the essence of truth. Meanwhile Gross points out that "Man U. fans have had a fun time painting Glazer as the owner of a mediocre team in a grotesque sport that has the gall to call itself 'football'. And owning an NFL team is seen as nothing like owning a Premier League club." All true. But the pull quote above stands on its own.


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