In any sporting contest, a viewerâ€™s interest seems to be reliant on three key factors.
1. The competitors: It all matters whoâ€™s playing. As a football fan, would you rather watch a 7-0 Green Bay Packers team travel to the upstart Detroit Lions on Sunday, or would you prefer a showcase of the winless Dolphins and Cleveland?
Right, Iâ€™d go with the Fins-Browns matchup too. So the second significant factor related to a gameâ€™s interest isâ€¦
2. The magnitude: Is a week three divisional rivalry between Green Bay and Detroit more appealing than a Week 17 game that could potentially be a divisional championship game? Or for that matter, could the game essentially be a â€œwin or go homeâ€ situation if wild card contenders have superior records?
The answer to that is obvious enough.
But in my eyes, the most important ingredient needed to invigorate any sports fan is the third component, which isâ€¦
3. The predictability? If I know that Green Bay is going to kill Detroit (like they almost undoubtedly would have each time over the past half-decade), then why would I want to watch the game, even if I was a Packers fan? For the love of the game, or the team, or the commercials?
Maybe. But in most cases, I think a â€œsure-thingâ€ result leads to another sure thing: a click of the remote to a different TV station, whether that be some playoff baseball or Foxâ€™s comedy power-hour (really, really exciting stuff).
But, one thing you can never take away from European soccer is its volatility, or in other words, its unpredictability. During any given week, anyone can beat anyone. Furthermore, any team can beat any other team by literally any scoreline you can think of.
Letâ€™s take this past weekendâ€™s Manchester derby, for instance. Manchester United, having won six league titles in the last ten years, have been notorious for maintaining a reliably competitive, top-class program inside and out. Their â€œnoisy neighborâ€ rivals, Manchester City, hadnâ€™t won a single trophy, before they clinched the F.A. Cup last year, since 1970. The two have started their 2011-12 league campaigns with stylish dominance, scoring a combined 59 goals in nine matches.
When the two met at Old Traffordâ€”often considered Unitedâ€™s home fortressâ€”last Sunday one might think the match would be entirely up for grabs until the final whistle. What would you guess was the final score? 0-0, 1-0, 1-1?
Manchester City left the home of their crosstown rivals with a 6-1 victory under their belts. And it wasnâ€™t just a six (yes, six) goal victory; it was an absolute evisceration of a Manchester United team that is by no means used to humiliation. Especially not at home, where they hadnâ€™t lost in over 18 months.
On the same day, big-boys (and big spenders) Chelsea, run by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, fell 1-0 to newly promoted and under-equipped side Queens Park Rangers. To put that into perspective a little more, chomp on this: Chelsea playersâ€™ annual average salary (according to a 2010 study by sporting intelligence.com) ranks fourth on the list of the highest paying sports organizations worldwide.
Thatâ€™s right, not just soccer teams worldwide, sports teams.
That means that besides the Yankees, Real Madrid and Barcelona, Chelsea soccer players are, on average, the wealthiest athletes on the planet. And those â€œhigh rollersâ€ couldnâ€™t even muster a draw against their West London rivals QPR, a team that is widely regarded to be well below Premier League standards.
Interesting, yeah? Maybe not for everyone. But you canâ€™t deny that when a sporting event bores you, switching channels in an attempt to find something more worthwhile is commonplace. I promise you, 99% of European soccer matchups are utterly worthwhile, for both soccer crazies and â€œcouldnâ€™t care less-ers.â€