Friday, May 27, 2005
It's like 50 mini-NFLs!
Ok, so imagine for a moment that there was an NFL-quality league in each of the 50 US states. Fifty separate leagues that each had 20 - 30 teams (or more) and that each year the winners of each of those leagues got together (with possibly the second, third and fourth place finishers from those leagues depending on how strong the quality of play in the league is) to play a competition to see who really is the best.

Think now that each of these approximately 1,000 teams each had die-hard supporters that desperately want to be in this, well, let's call it a Champions League. Let's also say that TV loved the league since so many people watched and paid the teams who were in this league large sums of money the better the teams did in the competition. However, just making the league meant at least a sizable paycheck and happiness from your supporters.

Now imagine the Greensboro Football Team won the whole thing. Bedlam erupts. They're rioting on Market Street and Tate Street is decorated in green and gold (the official colors of this made up team -- honestly, I never got over the baseball team changing the name from the Hornets). The Mayor proclaims it a momentous day in all the land and no one goes to work. The entire city lines Friendly from Guilford College to Centre City Park and the team has a parade. Life is good.

However, only four teams from the North Carolina league get to play in the Champions League the following year. Since there were lots of injuries during the season, the coach couldn't quite lead the team to automatic qualification and the team finishes fifth in the league while bitter rival Lexington finishes fourth, it's highest ever finish and the Lexington Loogies earn automatic qualification.

Would you let Greensboro play in next year's Champions League?

Because that's exactly what's happening to Liverpool in Europe right now. The Merseysiders finished fifth in the very difficult English Barclays English Premier League but won the Champions League title in stunning fashion. Now there's a huge debate on as to whether or not Liverpool should be allowed to defend their title since the team did not qualify for the tournament under normal methods.

Granted, I'm biased, because Liverpool is my club but even I don't see how they can be let in the competition. Should the rules be changed that the winner automatically qualifies for the next title? Absolutely. Should Liverpool buy all sorts of great players with the fantastic purse they earned with the win and also sign Steven Gerrard to a lifetime contract? Without a doubt.

But they didn't win their way in. And unless each team in the Champions League for next year gives its approval for the Reds to be there (without sacrificing a team that did qualify), I don't see how it can happen.

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