Good, so it wasn’t just me that felt complete ambivalence towards Chelsea and the general state of the EPL. I can’t remember the last time we had a season loaded with so many 6-0’s, 7-1’s, 8-0’s. The gulf between the top teams and the rest of the league is certainly nothing new. It’s just that the gap appears to be growing. Nothing like further crushing the illusion that any of the other teams outside of Chelsea, Man Utd and Arsenal have a realistic shot at winning the competition, and that they are more or less competing instead to grab a spot in the Champions League the following season which they won’t possibly win or do well in. Yippee.
You know what was depressing? Seeing how many people got excited that Spurs finished fourth. Who gets excited about finishing fourth? That tells you you’ve got a problem right there. Pretty soon we’ll have a special trophy for the team that comes fourth. Well done! You came first out of The Rest of Us teams.
The structure of the EPL is nothing new of course and its certainly in line with the how the rest of Europe’s footballing leagues are structured. You get a handful of dynasty teams at the top of the league who have all the money and consequently all of the best talent.
It doesn’t have to be that way though. In Australian sporting leagues, we have a salary cap in place that prevents clubs from spending more than a fixed amount of money, thus levelling the playing field. You want to know what happens with a salary cap? Different teams have a viable shot at winning the competition!
NRL Grand Final Winners From the Past 12 Years
1998 – Brisbane Broncos
1999 – Melbourne Storm
2000 – Brisbane Broncos
2001 – Newcastle Knights
2002 – Sydney Roosters
2003 – Penrith Panthers
2004 – Canterbury Bulldogs
2005 – Wests Tigers
2006 – Brisbane Broncos
2007 – Melbourne Storm
2008 – Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
2009 – Melbourne Storm
The only team that you might think appears more than they should in that list is the Melbourne Storm and guess what? They got busted this year for rorting the salary cap and had their 2007 and 2009 titles stripped from them. Melbourne Storm and their dodginess aside, it makes the NRL seem like an aspirational model of sporting competition.
Except they’re not. It’s a competition that is absolutely stacked with violent idiots, sex offenders, drunks and people who shit in hotel hallways. When Channel 7 created a family friendly NRL comedy sketch show, the best ambassador for the game they found was Matthew Johns, who gang-banged a 17 year old with eleven other dudes.
What the hell is up with professional sports today. It’s goddamn depressing.
Even setting aside the blandness of the EPL, or the prevalence of complete douchebags in the NRL, I find that the homogenization of athletes to a single muscular build to be a rather depressing thing. I remember when I was a kid, you could find a wide variety of shapes and sizes that could serve as a microcosm of your classroom. Fat, tall, short, thin, whatever. Now everyone has the same ridiculously tanked physique. And there’s a good chance they have a tribal tattoo. Who wants to aspire to that?
Thats why I like the physical anomalies that occasionally break through nowadays like Peter Crouch or that huge fat guy from the Barbados cricket team who was in the World Cup a couple of years ago. They are now few and far between. I just wish we had less to do with people like Lee Bowyer assaulting people outside of the game and more to do with the good old days of bald Bruce Grobelaar assaulting his own Liverpool defenders on the field. That was great to watch.
Still, jaded as I am about the state of professional sport in this day and age, I still love watching and playing sports to this day. It won’t ever go away. It’s just not what it used to be, but I guess thats just how things roll. Hopefully this upcoming World Cup in South Africa will be representative of some of the good things about professional sports. I’m hoping it’ll deliver an underdog team that performs well, individual stars who shine with moments of magic on the field and with a bit of luck, no one will get shot as parts of South Africa appear to still be a crime infested hellhole. It’s not long to go now. I’ve got the dates marked for the Australia, New Zealand and Japan games. I’ll be watching. But back to the original point of this blog entry: Chelsea are shit and I don’t like them.