… due to very recent events in the sports world and this tweet by John Green,
'Sport matters so much to me precisely because it lacks intrinsic meaning. We make it real and important by force of collective caring'(@realjohngreen, 2013),
that I felt the urge to write a few lines about why I am frustrated a lot more by my real football teams losing than my favourite American football teams. I actually think that John Green already talked about this once before in a Swoodilypoopers video: about why European football competitions are perceived by many as more exciting than American football.
Just to establish this up front: When I talk about my favourite football teams I am referring to the Chicago Bears in the NFL and Eintracht Frankfurt currently playing in the Bundesliga, the probably best pro-football league (and most exciting football league in the world!). I am not even going to talk about the differences in fan culture or the different ways the games actually excite. (Yes, draws can be good games as well!) I really just am going to share my thoughts on why I am a lot more bummed out by Eintracht losing any game than by the Bears losing to Green Bay.
The basic reason for this is that poor performances in the European football competitions actually may lead to severe financial, competitiveness-linked and even existence threatening consequences. The Bundesliga, as all other major European Leagues, are based on a table format, i.e. the teams accumulate points throughout the seasons which in the end will be used to determine the season outcome: Whom gets crowned champion, whom is allowed to participate in European-wide championships and who has to play at a lower level the next year. Yup, playing at lower levels is a thing. The number of teams playing in the top tier of German football is fixed at 18, however, there are a whole lot more teams competing for a spot among these 18. There are no franchises owned by single people, families, etc. that are in complete control over the team. The teams are usually clubs founded up to 120 years ago with less hierarchical structures and more evenly distributed powers.
So in order to belong to the top tier, you actually have to make it on a basis of successes in lower tiers resulting in the promotion of the team to the next level. Thus, very basic bottom line of this: If you are among the worst three teams in the Bundesliga, you will be relegated and have to play at a lower level the next year. While this in itself might not sound like such a horrible thing, as long as it only is connected to prestige, when you add the business aspect to this, it becomes a huge difference. A relegation and/or continued lack of success combined with poor financial management might even cause bankrupcy of clubs resulting in forced relegations (forced by the National football Assoc.) or even worse their dissolution.
At the same time, this is not the case in the NFL. Teams are fixed, and while business is business and losses are made as well, poor performances do not result in the complete loss of competitiveness. The worst teams even are somewhat rewarded with the higher picks in the NFL Draft, the American way of recruiting young atheletes. Thus, if you perform poorly, which might result in missing the playoffs, it at the same time means that you actually get to choose better players coming out of college entering the professional world. So this almost appears as if there is no real incentive for teams to acutally try and still win several games, as this might subsequently cost you a higher draft choice, thus making it less likely for you to actually draft the most talented players. (The example John used the aforementioned video was Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts: I.e. if the Colts should just lose all the games in the remainder of the season so they could secure the number 1 pick and draft Andrew Luck, QB out of Stanford, first overall in the 2012 NFL Draft).
I found this quote from a buzzfeed article from a few weeks ago quite nice with regard to the whole American top level professional sports world:
But while this cutthroat capitalist system — the rich get richer, the poor are fucked — would seem to mimic the socioeconomic currents that dominate American life, for some reason we like to hold our professional sports to a higher moral standard of fairness. Thus, revenue sharing, luxury taxes, salary caps, collective bargaining, and the like. An English friend referred to this as the “quasi-socialism of U.S. pro sport,” and he’s not wrong: Any of this stuff would be denounced as outright un-American if it were, say, helping to lift a working family out of poverty or get access to affordable health care, as opposed to helping the Oakland A’s or Real Salt Lake make a playoff run.’ (Peisner, D., 2013.)
This actually brings me to my point: Teams that are relegated, or just rank among the bottom tier of the table, barely preventing relegation are faced with far more potential threats than the NFL teams ranking in the same region of their standings. Also caused by the absence of a salary cap, i.e. a total amount of money that can be spent on all the players on the roster, in European football, teams underperforming are faced with the challenge of how to hold on to talented young players for several years. In particular my concern stems from the current performance of Eintracht Frankfurt: After being promoted again in 2011/12, we went on an amazing run, with exciting, young players, and ended qualifying for the Europa League competition. A lot has been said about whether we would be able to hold on to all of our new starlets, and surprisingly we managed to do so. Not because we could offer them a lot more money (the relegation in 2010/11 cost a whole lot of money so we were basically broke and had to rebuild.), but mainly because we could offer them opportinutity to play at a higher, European level. These opportunities however, may not be there next season, it has become fairly unlikely that we will qualify for it again. We have lost too many points this season already and are ranked 15th as of today’s unnecessary, yet deserved 2-0 loss to Hannover 96. So now the actually scary part for the fan is, that I ask myself, how we will be able to hold on to players like Pirmin Schwegler, our heart and soul in the midfield, Sebastian Jung our tremendously important right back and possible new identification figure for fans, this offseason. Their contracts have built-in clauses that allow them to leave for a fixed amount of money, and while that already was the case this summer, there actually might be a risk that they will leave this time. Why? Exactly: because we can’t offer them the higher level of competition anymore, i.e. we don’t play at a European level. And for a player who tries to make it into the national selection, this is key: they have to show they are able to perform at a European level in order to attract more interest by the manager.
At the same time, if the Bears don’t make the playoffs, while still being sad and all because their season is over, I am pretty sure that very few players actually will leave because the team didn’t make the playoffs. Look at the Detroit Lions for instance: They were complete shit a long time, and finally managed to draft kind of okay players: i.e. Megatron, Stafford, Delmas, etc.
They are building a franchise around these players that now is leading the NFC North. A few years ago, they barely managed to win a game in a season. And what did they get? High draft choices, enabling them to draft highly talented players that now are forming that pretty scary offense. (and kind of okay defense). Of course good management is key here too: If you draft shit players in high spots, you’ll still have a shit team. Cases in point: the Cleveland Browns or St. Louis Rams. The examples for pretty darn solid management of course being the New England Patriots. Yet, the general point remains: Bad Seasons in the National Football League actually get kind of rewarded for the sake of fairness. (and viewer excitement probably)
Thus, in conclusion, I hope i managed to express why me, and my fellow carers, are a whole lot more bummed out and sufficiently scared for the future of the club of your heart by the series of unsuccessful games, than I am about the poor performances of the Bears run D as of recently (and the threat of Adrian Peterson rushing for 400 yards today, which is really real!!!). This might also explain why things like this happen:
After a horribly sad performance in 2011, one game before our relegation that season was final, angry supporters stormed the pitch trying to get to the team they are usually supporting and having wet dreams about to express their anger about the lack of fight and heart the team showed. Honestly though, they played complete shit and i really really really get why they were pissed off, as so was I.
But in the end, as John Green so accurately put it: The actual justification and meaning of sports are only a thing because of all of our collective caring, pretty much the same reason why our whole societal and economic systems kind of function: because we believe in it. And honestly, I do not want to not believe in the importance of football, because it’s just too damn exciting and fun and … it just gives you something to cheer for occasionally i suppose?
Plus it’s a great reason to drink. You win: you drink because horray, you lose, you drink because you need to drown your sorrow. ;)
Okay, back to revisions. This took longer and got a lot more than i initially expected. And I am pretty sure no one is actually going to read this, but as it is the case so often: I just post stuff on here to kind of blurt them out, if people acutally read it is secondary.
If you read this, then, wow kudos for making it through, also: EINTRACHT FRANKFURT ALLÉZ, SCHWARZ UND WEISS WIE SCHNEE! (and BEAR DOWN!)
so fatalistisch würde ich da noch gar nicht ran gehen. Die erste Hälfte war schwach, beim vermeindlichen 2:0 hatten wir Glück. Und aus der Pause kamen wir gut raus, dann hat Perl das Ding mit schlechtem Fingerspitzengefühl entschieden. Bitter. Ganz Bitter. God fucking dammit. Ausgrechnet gegen DrecksundNeunzig.
Kudos #Eintracht. Immer noch probieren sie was. mit 2:0 hinten, einem Mann weniger und einem unfähigen Schiri.
Der Perl hat sie doch nicht mehr Alle!!!
Tooooooooooooor! Für die EINTRACHT!.
Ohoooooooo Wir fahren alle nach BORDEAUX!!!!