If you’ve paid any attention to college football the last few years, you’ve probably heard one major complaint. “The same three teams win it every year, so what’s the point of even playing?” College football is built on chaos, but chaos only comes from parity. And the claim that the dominance of a handful of teams is bad for the sport isn’t exclusive to football. The Warriors heard the same gripe while they built their dynasty. On its surface, this looks like a sound argument. If casual fans feel like they know who will win then there won’t be any suspense, so they won’t watch. However, hard evidence exists that proves this theory wrong. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the English Premier League.
The EPL is much more similar to college football than you might expect. Both have organizations of all sizes, rabid local fanbases, and upsets galore. And, much like football, these upsets end up being meaningless as one of the same few teams wins again and again. This soccer oligarchy just happens to include six teams instead of three. Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham comprise what is known as the Big Six. These are the guys that win everything. When I say that, I’m not exaggerating. They really do win everything. Well, technically only five of them do (Tottenham fans please don’t kill me). Out of the last 28 seasons, 26 ended with one of these clubs hoisting the trophy. It’s gotten so bad that when Leicester City won the title in 2016 it was considered one of the biggest upsets ever. Not just in soccer, but in all of sports. Then there’s the FA Cup; the giant tournament involving literally every team in England. A lot of the big boys don’t really care about this one, so it has to be different, right? Well, in a way yes. It’s actually worse. The Big Six has claimed 31 of the last 34 of those. And, just like college football, this iron fist extends to the top 3. Outside of Leicester’s miracle, the last time a have-not finished in the top three their fanbase was still celebrating that the world didn’t end on Y2K. In the EPL, you’re either in the Big Six, or you’re a loser.
So, if a lack of parity is the league killer many claim it to be, then the EPL must be on its death bed, right? It’s actually in whatever kind of hospital bed you give birth in. A birthing tub maybe? I’m really regretting choosing this analogy, but I’m sticking with it. Despite being in the midst of this dominance two years ago, the league signed a three-year TV deal worth 7 billion dollars. It broke the previous record by almost $1.5 billion. College football has made its way into the exact same bathroom nativity. After moving to the playoff structure, the TV deal with Disney nearly quadrupled in per-game value. Despite fans voicing their displeasure with the system louder than ever before, these dynasties are continuing to grow their leagues. Because, love it or hate it, success sells.
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