Yeah, be the basic American sports fan and tout how soccer is a "pussy" sport because of diving. Off your high horse yet? Good, because not once have I ever heard a soccer fan try to justify and/or diminish the amount of diving that goes on in the sport. But if you're going to crucify soccer for diving, then you can also crucify baseball for steroids and football for domestic violence Hockey? You're good. No one dislikes hockey players.
If you follow Sunday Scaries on Twitter, you probably notice that I spend most Saturday/Sunday mornings sitting in front of my TV ranting about an English soccer game that seemingly none of my followers are watching. Well, I want to change that.
A little background on my soccer history: I didn't play my first two years of high school because I was too lazy to run the 3-mile pre-practice run, so I joined as a junior. I was the guy who played striker and scored four goals against shitty teams and then went completely silent in meaningful games. Meanwhile, I spent night-after-night balls deep in FIFA's Manager Mode while falling asleep in my La-Z-Boy to FanZone (a show where hooligans of opposing teams replaced announcers and live commented on the ENTIRE game; fucking AWESOME) on the now-defunct Fox Soccer Channel.
So, as a 16 year-old, I fell in love with the English Premier League. But then I went to college where the dorms didn't have FSC, everyone was a Liverpool fan because of Champion's League, and I got completely roasted by my east coast corridor mates for not liking the New York Football Giants as much as they did. Because I love succumbing to peer pressure and doing what my friends tell me, I slowly fell out of love with the league I once literally watched in my sleep.
But then, in 2012, it all changed again when NBC secured the television rights to the Premier League. Now? Ya boy is ALL IN for more reasons than one.
NBC has made it virtually impossible to miss a fucking game. Between their constant weekend (and partial Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday) coverage on television, you can also access any game through their app or online. Manager and player interviews post shortly after match end, and NBC compiles every highlight for their review show and app. They even have a highlight reel called "Showboat of the Week" which Douchebag Pete would probably LOVE if he knew it existed.
Want coverage outside of the games? Resident Babe Rebecca Lowe has you covered. And don't be sexist, she knows her shit (outside of her calling Manchester United to win the league this year, which was a call that shows she has bigger proverbial nuts than Joe Buck). In addition, every Monday night, The Men In Blazers give their takes on the weekend, but in a hilarious manor where they ridicule absurd European haircuts and represent the USA National Team as if they aren't actually from England. One week, they had Shaggy as their guest. Fucking Shaggy.
Too hungover to get up for the 7am game? Suck it up, grab a beer, and get your competitive blood flowing. You're watching live sports from one of the most competitive leagues in the world so drinking is COMPLETELY excusable. Besides, sometimes that game sucks anyway so you can skip it. Stoke/Sunderland? Nappenin'. Last week it was Chelsea/Newcastle, which seemed like a good idea to watch at the time. More on that later.
If you can't get up by 10 for the second wave of games, then you have some personal shit that you need work out with yourself. Only poors sleep in. But the best part about the early start? All the games are done by noon and you can go about your day. Post-match sad naps are encouraged. A few weeks ago, the early English action made for an unbelievable day of me not leaving my favorite chair in front of my television and fireplace.
8am F1 Abu Dhabi
10am Liverpool-Palace 2nd Half
Choosing a team to support is a must. While I have a theory that Liverpool/Arsenal fans are the same personality-wise, while Man U/Chelsea fans are the same personality-wise, I don't care who you pick as long as you commit. That being said, if you choose Tottenham/Everton, you're just trying to look smart while you're actually setting yourself up a world of hurt.
Doesn't matter what team you pick to support, there's no shortage of characters in the EPL. Chelsea? Jose Mourinho. Man U? Rooney (you know, the guy I got arrested for impersonating) and van Gaal. Liverpool? Brendan Rodgers and Balotelli. Arsenal? That french twat, Arsene Wenger. Man City? Aguero and Pellegrini. And any fan knows that I just skipped over a fuckkkton of awesome personalities from those squads.
Premier League manager interviews are pretty much the opposite of Bill Belichick interviews. Personality, fervor, and mental chess run rampant. While Belichick says everything by saying nothing at all, these over-emotional Euros are saying everything by saying EVERYTHING. The mental pretzels that Jose Mourinho has put everyone from Wenger to Pellegrini in are nothing short of spectacular.
Perpetual powerhouses Manchester United dominated the first decade of the league league from 1992 to 2003, and then again on and off again since 06/07. This year? A fuckin' TOSS UP. The traditional Big 5 (Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, and Arsenal) are all over the map aside from Chelsea and Man City finally being competitive atop the table. If not for the Chelsea's loss to Newcastle that I alluded to earlier, Chelsea would be on a season-long unbeaten streak that's only been rivaled by Arsenal who went unbeaten for an entire season in 03/04.
So with all of these squads trying to outplay each other week in and week out, the table is apt to change on a weekly basis because every game fucking matters. Earlier this December, Liverpool was sitting in 11th and Southampton in 3rd. Unheard of stuff.
The kicker? While the top tier all get places in various subsequent European competitions the next season, the bottom three teams get sent to a shittier league where they make less money. If the NBA sent the bottom three teams to the D-League, none of us would have to suffer through the year-in/year-out tanking we're subjected to with the 76ers. If you can't get behind that format then you're just a soft dude; end of story.
Unlike the traditional American sports, there's no championship game in the English Premier League. Every team plays 38 games and the one with the most points wins. Every game matters towards being champions. Simple as that.
It doesn't matter though because it's rarely a runaway. Manchester City were named champions over Manchester United in 2011/12 because of goal differential. That's gotta be fuckin' frustrating, huh? Now, you may not know the names, but bear with me for the sake of excitement and read how it went down:
"Going into the final day, City were top of the league, ahead of United on goal difference. However, a Wayne Rooney goal at Sunderland gave United the advantage. A 39th minute goal from Pablo Zabaleta put City back on top at half time. In a stunning second half that anyone that witnessed will never forget, Djibril Cissé equalised for QPR. Shortly after all hell broke loose when Joey Barton was sent off for elbowing Carlos Tévez; on his way off the pitch, he kicked Sergio Agüero, attempted to headbutt Vincent Kompany and squared up to Mario Balotelli. Despite the numerical advantage, City went behind after Jamie Mackie gave QPR the lead on 66 minutes. As time dwindled it looked like United would win the title with their victory over Sunderland. Queue utter madness. Edin Džeko equalised for City in the 92nd minute. United players waited on the field at Sunderland for their trophy presentation, but City's Sergio Agüero had different ideas, scoring the game winner in the 94th minute to clinch the title on goal difference."
Do yourself a favor and watch it for yourself.
Not saying you need to shave the sides of your head and get a hooligan/firm tattoo, but I am saying that being a Premier League fan will make your hungover winter mornings a hell of a lot more bearable.
Join me for some #ScaryPrem action: