Sunday, May 13, 2012

Blue Moon Rising... Over American Sportswriters

Twitter was abuzz this Sunday morning of what Manchester City did to win the Barclays Premier League title. It was nothing short of astounding watching unbridled disappointment and pain turn to joy and elation at the flick of a switch. It was the end of a 44 year wait for the Noisy Neighbors of Manchester. Everyone was in on it, from the soccer diehards, to those who have never heard of Roberto Mancini before. But, the overall prevailing sentiment was to compare this amazing feat to one in American sports. And here is a word to the wise: Just stop it.

European soccer is so vastly different from anything in American sports, that there is no real comparison. If you want a soft one, the final day of the 2011 MLB season is the only thing that even remotely comes close, and that was just to get into the postseason, not to win the title. Add in the team that City was playing, especially because they were fighting relegation, and you get the perfect recipe. Relegation doesn't exist in American sports, and one cannot fully understand what it means in sports, and business terms, unless you've experienced it. The fact that the 2 teams fighting for the title were from the same city made the story all the more interesting, especially considering how we got there.

Anyone can make up hypotheticals of a scenario that might compare to what happened at the Etihad Stadium, but nothing comes close to matching that kind of switch of emotion, and what the title means to Manchester City. Soccer is the only sport where that kind of ending is possible, even though each sport in the US has its own crazy ending to bring you to, soccer has the drama, pageantry, and all else that the endings of these American sports truly don't have.

Maybe it's because most Americans are xenophobic about soccer invading the land of pigskin and Louisville Slugger, but don't be. It's not worth it. It doesn't matter what sport it is, the drama and the ending should be what compels people to watch, and it's what brings them back. Comparing this ending to an American sport is almost untenable to think about, because I can't even think of a funny backwards comparison to make here. "Americanizing" soccer is not what should be done here.

Let soccer have its place in the sun, because warping it for the untrained audience is not what should happen. It takes away from the truly magical moment. That will be the talk of Europe, and the fanatical American soccer community for a long time, even if the public talk is only for a little bit while we wonder about the Lakers escape from first round oblivion.

Nothing compares. Don't try to compare it. Let the moment speak for itself.

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