Getting into the English Premier League
Growing up, I played soccer for eight years. At that time, there wasn’t much of an MLS following, and I didn’t see much future for me in playing soccer. Yes, I got oranges at half time, and sodas and hot dogs after the game, but no one I had heard of was making a career out of playing soccer. As a result, I turned my attention to (American) football. Now that I’m a desk jockey, and my pro football career never materialized, I find myself getting back into soccer. When I say that, I mean following the action in Europe. While there are great players in almost every European country, the English Premier League is the gold standard of international club soccer. No easy games, and no pushover opponents ensure that the competition is high for every EPL game.
I started picking it up last year, with the EPL playoffs, and watched in amazement as Manchester City won their first English Premier League title in 44 years. I jumped off my seat when they scored the goal to clinch the league title, only to realize that I hadn’t really declared a “favorite” team, so I don’t even know if I was rooting for Manchester City. You just can’t help but get caught up in the excitement though, because the fans are loud and rowdy, and the players are passionate. That combo creates an awesome atmosphere, reminiscent of a top college football matchup (think Michigan vs. Ohio State every game). One of the other exciting wrinkles in English Premier League soccer is a term called “relegation.” In a 20 team league, the bottom three teams each year are “relegated” to a lower division. Imagine if the bottom teams from US sports got relegated: Can you see the Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros, and San Diego Padres get sent to the minors and have to fight their way back into the big leagues? That’s relegation.
We’re only 3 games into this year, but you can already see some of the “cream” rising to the top. Defending champion Manchester City is tied for second place, with always strong Manchester United, Arsenal, and Chelsea in the mix for the top spot. With an estimated following of 1.46 billion (yes, Billion) people worldwide, the English Premier League dwarfs all other sports leagues in popularity. As much as I love sports, I’ve finally pulled my head out of the sand and started watching professional soccer. At the end of the day, I’m a sports fan, and this league has some great action for its fans. Check it out and let me know if you disagree.