The 2014-2015 Premier League season is all but wrapped up. No one really cares which of Hull, Sunderland, or Newcastle get relegated (hopefully the one that’s still playing the man charged with grooming and child rape, but nevermind). And we care even less about which mediocre team gets forced into the Europa League against its will, or which team plays in the Intertoto Cup (is that even still a thing?). The only real fun left lies in baseless speculation: players coming and going, managerial shake-ups, and even potential far-fetched rule changes.
For fans of both soccer and basketball (the two best sports, natch), this is the time of year when action in the Europe’s domestic leagues pales in comparison to the excitement of the NBA playoffs. Most of the major leagues have already been decided, and watching dead rubber matches each weekend is a world away from the nail-biting, win-or-go-home action currently happening in basketball. One of the favorite pastimes of the average fan of both sports is to make (wildly uninformed) suggestions as to how one league can learn from the other. But we here at Soccer Gods are not average fans; we are pioneers. As such, we offer a counter to the usual PL/NBA crossover hot takes – a reverse lay-up/back-heel hot take, so to speak. Here are five things that the Premier League should NOT copy from the NBA.
1. Seven-Game Playoff Series
Can you imagine José Mourinho having to get a result in three away games against his nearest competitor, all in the space of two weeks? Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Just the thought alone is enough to make you fall into a coma. If a Chelsea and Manchester City playoff series was to go to seven games this season, we would be lucky if the total goal output got into double figures. Mourinho approaches big games as wars of attrition, and as it stands, we only have to begrudgingly respect those a handful of times a season, sprinkled throughout the calendar. Having all those “gritty performances” pushed on us in consecutive series would be too much for most to bear.
2. More Timeouts
Timeouts in the NBA serve a number of purposes. On top of the primary purpose (selling things to viewers during the advertising breaks), coaches use them to rotate players, prepare set-plays, and just to try to change the momentum in a game. But those stretches of what seems like irresistible momentum in one team are the most exciting periods of soccer. It is exhilarating when it feels like one team is suddenly playing downhill; when the ball is being sucked into the Kop, or the Stretford End, or whatever the good side of Arsenal’s ground is. To give managers the ability to kill that momentum whenever they felt their team was in danger would drain far too much fun out of the viewing experience.
3. Penalty Kicks As Common As Free Throws
For the most casual fans, soccer matches can be boring compared to more popular American sports, like basketball or competitive eating, because no one ever seems to score. One solution to this would be to drastically lower the standards for awarding a penalty. In the NBA, referees can award free throws to the opposing team for technical fouls (fouls that don’t involve physical contact). Technical fouls are really just a polite term for “giving points to the other team when the referee gets sick of your shit.” As many goals as it would add to the game, this would be an abysmal idea in the Premier League. The excitement in penalties is partly because of their rarity. If referees were able to award them every ten minutes just because Wayne Rooney can’t stop telling the linesman to fuck off, where would the fun be in that? Which brings us to our next point…
4. Respect For Referees
In the NBA, players are not allowed to swear at referees (I know, right?!), and even excess complaining about a call can earn you a technical foul. It may be hard to imagine, but the players are expected to treat the referees with respect. This is borderline unthinkable in soccer, and particularly in the Premier League. Verbally abusing match officials is a time-honored tradition, like pre-match handshakes, politely applauding cross-field passes, and leaving five minutes before the end to beat traffic. It’s bad enough how much foreign nonsense has seeped into the game, like diving and proper diet and nutrition. Just the thought of an entitled millionaire athlete not being able to shout “Fuck off ref, it’s not a fucking foul, you fucking wanker!” at a man just trying to do his job is frightening. Some things are just too sacred.
5. Make Super Sundays Actually Super
About two or three times each season, the Premier League marketing machine tells us to expect a “Super Sunday,” a day in which the fixture generator happened to throw up a match between two title contenders, another between a pseudo-contender and an also-ran, and maybe a third between two local rivals who are competing for sweet fuck all. Besides the fact that the biggest and most important NBA games obviously take place in the post-season, the league office regularly schedules games between big teams to take place on the same day. This “fixing” of the schedule would undoubtedly add intrigue to the Premier League. It may even help attract more casual fans, if there were a few highlighted matchdays on the calendar that were guaranteed to both feature superstars and be crucial to the title race. But again: terrible idea. Part of the essence of The Best League in the World™ is the pack of lies it peddles to fans every year. God forbid we get all the good players involved on one day. “Super Sunday,” as a tradition, has to involve some meaningless 0-0 between two garbage teams, because otherwise the PL would just be spoiling us.