I love Jimmy Conrad. Stalwart player. Thinking man. Clever guy. Funny.
Those are all the types of disclaimers you write just before you make a blog posting that says, basically, that someone is full of shit.
I do love Jimmy Conrad. And he is full of shit.
Derisively calling those of us who recognize that promotion and relegation (between MLS and the vaporware MLS2 or some other second division) isn’t going to happen here “all-knowing talking heads” ignores the reasons why we believe it won’t happen. It’s not because of this:
“We are Americans, and as such, we should be ourselves: We embrace playoffs and conferences, and we don’t copy the incredible success of the top soccer leagues from around the world.”
To be sure, there’s a tiny bit of American exceptionalism at play here, but the real reason why “we should be ourselves” is because of this: economically, it doesn’t work here. There’s no big pot of gold at the end of the promotion rainbow in this country, New York’s not going down a league to play Charleston, and the second division (whatever it ends up being) isn’t strong enough at this point. Just not happening. (Dan has a good analogy here; mine is this: should we scap our interstate highway system and beef up Amtrak just because that would be copying the incredible success of Deutsche Bahn?)
And I have news for you, Jimmy – just making American soccer look like European soccer is not magically going to lead to “the incredible success of the top soccer leagues from around the world.” Hey, push a button, American soccer is successful, just like the EPL! And, in Jimmy’s world, having two ten-team leagues (you remember a ten-team league, right? That was fun!) is better than having one twenty-team league because it will look like Europe!
Would promotion and relegation be interesting? Sure. Would the last week or two of the regular season be more dramatic than it is now? For some teams, sure. Would Americans grasp the concept? I have no doubt they would.
But economics trumps all. And – let’s not kid ourselves – promotion and relegation is a holdover from a time when, realistically, there wasn’t a whole lot of difference organizationally between Woolwich Arsenal and Accrington. Bit of a difference today, isn’t there? You think if The Football League was invented in 2005, they’d have installed promotion and relegation? Or that if you got rid of it in England and Italy and Spain and Germany, that those countries’ leagues would stop having “incredible success?”
There’s a reason Brian Billick said “owners own, coaches coach, players play and writers write.” We don’t let players make policy – they’re the instruments of that policy.
Plus, if players are so gung-ho about how great promotion and relegation is, why do they all bail on their teams as soon as they’re relegated?