There has been a significant amount of chatter over the past week about a potential hangup between USSF and FPF in regards to Puerto Rico BFC’s bid to join the NPSL. Yesterday, futbolboricua.co published a story indicating the rumors were true. According to the story, the FPF failed to deliver the proper paperwork to USSF in time to allow Puerto Rico BFC to compete for 2014. This was corroborated, according to the report, by Neil Beasley at USSF who indicated that USSF did not refuse the Puerto Rican team participation in the American league.
I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist. With the BCS announcing the exploration of a playoff model to determine the national champion, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to broach one of the hottest, and possibly the most futile debate currently plaguing American football: Promotion/Relegation. There. I said it. Let the soccer moms (as if?) sit down at their keyboards and begin raging on the Big Soccer battle
The blogosphere may be sick and tired of the pro/rel debate, but it is a real issue. Not only do myself and a host of other American footy fans care, FIFA cares. And because FIFA cares, it likely (ok, I’ll admit to some journalistic speculation here) cost the US a chance to host the World Cup. THE WORLD CUP. Yes, I’m yelling. IT’S ONLY THE SINGLE GREATEST SPORTING COMPETITION ON THE FACE OF PLANET EARTH. Ok, that’s a little obnoxious. But I want you to understand this is a big deal!
And while many claim that pro/rel is decades away from being instituted in the US, I believe that it could be much closer based upon the rapidly changing fabric of sporting culture in this country. Two quick pieces of evidence: 1. As stated at the beginning of the article, the BCS. If an institution so entrenched as the BCS and college football can take a step forward, then so can the United States Soccer Federation. 2 The US Open Cup. A cursory glance over the growth of this tournament in recent years underscores the growth of soccer in the US – at all levels. That is not to say that there aren’t significant issues facing the US Soccer pyramid. Only that there has been a lot of growth throughout the pyramid.
Ultimately, this debate comes down to a series questions about the economic implications of pro/rel on established clubs within a franchised system; namely, what will happen when these clubs are disenfranchised AND potentially relegated? The answer to this question that pro/rel opponents would offer is to say that it will ruin some of these clubs financially, causing severe a stratification within the league(s). Without salary caps to drive down the cost of player wages, without a revenue sharing agreement to skim the successful clubs profits and share them with the unsuccessful clubs, and without a Big Brother to keep everyone playing ‘fair’ the market can be controlled, risks can be minimized, profits are theoretically maximized, and of course, everyone wins [kind of]. Of course, this answer betrays a certain set of presuppositions that ought to be examined as the real basis of those opposing pro/rel.
So, in the upcoming pro/rel series I will seek to first examine and then evaluate these underlying assumptions in the hopes of building a case for the value of the pro/rel system in America. I welcome your thoughts and comments along the way and would love to hear some healthy critically though out dialogue on the subject.