This article looks at the contrast between the English Premier League and the NFL, and examines why the NFL would love to have days like ‘Survival Sunday’, but never will…
I love football. I hate it being called ‘soccer’. That’s viewed as pure Americanism, but in defence of that, the Americans got it originally from an English term, so it’s no big deal in my eyes.
I also love the NFL. The two games are very different, both in structure and appeal, and in this article I want to examine a difference that was driven home on Sunday 22nd May 2011 in the English Premier League. I will say as you read on, that I will be using ‘football’ and ‘NFL’ to define the 2 sports. Ok, ready? Here we go…
May 22nd 2011 was dubbed ‘Survival Sunday’ in the English Premier League. Each season, 3 of the 20 teams are relegated to the division below. That’s based on the end table after each team has played each other twice.
On the last day of the 2010/11 season, one team was already relegated, but any of 5 other teams could have ended up in the other bottom 2 places. It all depended on the results of the final day’s games.
Relegation from the Premier League is a disaster for any club. Not only do they lose around $70 million in television money, but they lose their top quality players who need to play in the top league.
Those two factors are enough to make getting back into the league hard, although it is possible to get promoted straight back up again the next season.
‘Survival Sunday’ was superb. Goals flew in all around the relevant games, and the 2 remaining relegation slots changed over and over between the teams.
Fans went from elation to despair and back again. There could hardly be a better example of why so many people love sport – it links emotions and real life.
The NFL simply does not offer the same scenario. There is no league structure from which any team can get relegated/promoted. Each team is a franchise of the central business, you can’t just start you own team and work your way up.
Many top teams have been relegated in football. The precarious financial balancing act of many clubs can come crashing down with alarming speed, and names which seem a fixture in the top flight can find themselves going through the trap door and out of the division.
Can you imagine the Dallas Cowboys, the self-styled ‘America’s Team’, being relegated to a lower level? No, and that’s what stops the real grass roots development of the NFL outside the US.
The NFL, the National Football league, was set up as business, structured (in the same way as the game itself) in a way to contain sporting spectacle as a package. It works too, and I love the combination of tactics and athleticism.
The playoff system does give a sudden death knockout element to the season, but if a team loses, they know they have next season to try again.
Not so in the Premier League, where failure will send you out of the top flight for a whole season at the very least. Who knows, a relegated team might *never* again be in the top division.
That’s what the NFL lacks. I love watching the excitement of the first day of the NFL season, through to the playoffs and the Superbowl, but I think it will always be jealous of ‘Survival Sunday’, and it’s a card the Premier League can always use as a trump card.
I love watching sport (because I’m rubbish at playing it) and love writing about it. I love even more the fact that writing about sport makes me money. I’ll tell you the exact system I use to make money from sport – just click the link here!