Blog by Brian Hall | Corn Fed Sports
Follow me: @CR3EPS
Do you know the distance from the Dallas Fort Worth airport to Heathrow in England? No? You mean that’s not common knowledge that people have on hand? Well fine then, let me tell you: It’s just under five thousand miles.
Or in other words, 4, 757 miles as the crow flies, as the magic maps website said when I went to double check, but who even talks that way anymore?
The better question, though, is who cares about smelly old England anyway, right? We don’t need them redcoats right? RIGHT?! ‘MURICA!!!!!… But seriously, why am I bringing this up? I got a bit lost in my haze of patriotism.
The reason is simple. For the next few months of my life, I’m stuck, right here, in the middle of this island.Well Europe, specifically the UK, and good ol’, “There is no place like Nebraska” have one very special thing in common: A deep and fervent love for sport. Now I know Nebraska likes ‘real’ sports like football and pig wrestling, and England mostly cares about sissy-boy Soccer (*loads shotgun while simultaneously spitting into cup*), and yet the comparisons exist between the two contrasts, regardless of sport.
Let me show you. We’ll start with a comparison of two teams at the top of their respective leagues, and see how they match up. In college football’s corner we’ve got the Alabama Crimson Tide, and in European soccer, we’ll take Manchester United. Two teams both considered dynasties in their respective countries, both at the top of their game, both coming off of a championship in the previous year (as well as two in the last three years).
Now let’s compare total championships, in which Alabama has pulled in a respectable 15 national titles to put itself among the elite in the NCAA. However in comparison, Manchester United has a total of 20 league championships, slightly diminishing the value of the Crimson Tide’s pursuit of hardware.
“Hold on just a second!” say you most savvy of college football know-it-alls, “Princeton University has 28 titles, let’s see Man-U match that record!” To which I would respond with the fact that seven of those championships by Princeton were won before Manchester United was even established as a club, and the last time Princeton won a legitimate championship was over 60 years ago.
But so what, England, and it’s top soccer league, has an established dynasty, every sport does. It’s really nothing special until you consider something else; the distance between the top three most decorated teams in the league is less than 500 miles apart. Just think about that for a second. In the time it would take you to drive from Tuscaloosa, Alabama to Eugene, Oregon, you could have driven from Manchester to Liverpool, Liverpool to London, and then back to Manchester five times.
In a country in which the best teams from one of our most celebrated sports play over 2,500 miles away from each other, we miss out on something really special in sports. It’s the reason we love rivalries like Duke/North Carolina, the Yankees/Red Sox saga and pretty much any in-state or conference rivalry in sports. Geography creates rivalries on the field and inspires fan bases to draw a line in the sand between being a fan, and being a pariah in the local community.
Now imagine if the 20 best teams in college football decided to form their own league on an island that was, let’s just say…38 times smaller than the U.S.
Well that island exists. It’s name is England, and some of the best organizations, fans and culture in the wide world of sports reside on this little isle I’m currently calling home. And over the next 11 weeks I’m going to tell you all about it, including where we, the Huskers, compare and contrast with the way sports and perceived and consumed across the pond.
This might actually be fun.