A Reader’s Question Answered …

About a week ago, I mentioned that Leicester City had won the English Premier League last year but was down in the table near the “relegation zone” at the halfway mark of this year’s season.  A reader wondered in a comment to that rant if a Premier League Champion had ever been relegated the next year.  I said that was something I would need time to check and would not get that sort of time until after the Holidays.  I was wrong.  At a Holiday Gathering last week, I met a man who was born and raised in England who has been in the US for more than 25 years and is now a US citizen; his upbringing has led him to be a devoted follower of English Football and not American Football.  So, I asked him the question about a champion being relegated the next year…

The answer to the very specific question is no; that has never happened in the Premier League which has only been in existence since 1992.  However, he said that before 1992, the top level of English Football was the First Division and there was a First Division champion that was relegated after the next season.  The team suffering that fate was Manchester City; my informant recalled that the year was in the “mid-1930s”; I have subsequently confirmed that Manchester City was the First Division champion for the 1936/37 season and then finished in the “bottom 3” and was sent down after the 1937/38 season.

So, now we know …

I took the occasion of this conversation with my newfound soccer maven to ask the obverse question.  I said that I suspected it was not nearly so rare for a team relegated in one year to finish atop the league below and be promoted after the following season.  He said that happens regularly “to the point where I pay it no mind”.

So, now we know the obverse too …

Back in the time when the Cubs and the Indians were playing in the World Series, lots of folks adopted the mantra that the fans of both teams were loyal and long-suffering fans due to the long time between championships for either team.  As I read those sorts of reports and heard that line of commentary, I formed an image in my mind that equated the fans in Chicago and the fans in Cleveland in terms of their ardor for their teams and their levels of frustration.

There are data, however, that suggest that is not the case.

  • In 2016, the Cubs drew 39,906 fans per game.  That is 96.7% of capacity.
  • In 2016, the Indians drew 19,650 fans per game.  That is 55.8% of capacity.

Moreover, the percent of capacity figure for the Indians is “inflated somewhat” by the fact that the field has been lowering seating capacity each year since 2008 when there were about 8300 more seats in the stadium than there are today.  In terms of average attendance per game for 2016, the Indians were 28th in MLB and this was a year when the team was in contention from the start of the season all the way to the 7th game of the World Series.  Only two teams in MLB had a lower average attendance:

  1. Oakland A’s drew about 900 fewer fans per game than the Indians.  The A’s were never in contention and the A’s play in a stadium about as appealing as a dumpster.
  2. Tampa Bay Rays drew about 3800 fewer fans per game than the Indians.  The Rays were never serious contenders in 2016 and the Rays almost always have the worst attendance in MLB.

If in any way “fan passion” and “fan loyalty” are reflected in ticket buying and game attendance, it would seem to me that the fans in Cleveland have gotten a lot of credit that they may not deserve…

I don’t know about you, but my cable TV provider gives me access to at least 100 – if not 200 – channels that I never watch and am never tempted to watch.  Generally, I do not stand up and cheer when I hear about the birth of a new channel or its delivery by my cable provider.  Then there is the case where I hear about a new channel that just makes me shake my head in wonderment…

The IOC, the USOC and NBC Universal have formed some sort of holy alliance to bring to life the “Olympic Channel; Home of Team USA”.  This entity will come to exist in 2017 and will provide “year-round Olympic-sport programming” from all over the world with the emphasis being on US athletes and teams.  This is an adjunct to something called the “Olympic Channel” which evidently exists out there in TV land – or perhaps in a galaxy far away.

Most of the folks I know do not follow many – if any – Olympic sports for the first three years after the closing ceremonies of an Olympic Games.  If you asked a random person on the street today about luge competitions or Greco-Roman wrestling or synchronized diving, my guess is that you would observe a lot of blank stares.  My guess is that with the launch of “Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA” that situation will change not at all.

If this channel is going to be on the air 168 hours a week every week for all the time between the times of marginal interest in most Olympic sports, one of two things has to happen:

  1. There will be a whole lot of repeat programming for various competitions…
  2. There will be created a whole lot of features getting “up close and personal” with athletes and coaches in obscure sports all of which will contain stories of the trials, struggles and challenges facing those athletes and coaches.  Then those feature stories will be repeated over and over and over too…

Finally, instead of trying to end this rant on a light note as I usually try to do, I need to end this one on a downer.  I have learned that Dwight Perry’s column, Sideline Chatter, will be canceled by the Seattle Times as of January 1, 2017.  Evidently, the impetus behind this decision is cost-cutting at the paper.  Since I often use items from Sideline Chatter here, I will miss the column because it was a fertile ground for material.  On a more general level, I will miss it because it is a genre that is not commonly found in sports sections around the country these days; there used to be a bunch of so-called “notes columns” but many have fallen by the wayside.

I want to say thank you and good fortune to Dwight Perry for all his columns – his last one will be the 3,704th Sideline Chatter.  I believe that Dwight Perry will continue to be the night editor who puts the sports section together for the Seattle Times.  If anyone here wants to say thank you to Dwight Perry, his e-mail address can be found at the bottom of each Sideline Chatter column.

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



4 thoughts on “A Reader’s Question Answered …”

  1. I wonder about the comment you made regarding repeat programming on the “Olympic Channel.” There are hundreds of swim meets, bike races, professional track meets, marathon races, and crew competitions that are probably already being archived on video. Not to mention the emerging spectator sport of our lifetime, Snipe racing.

    And that’s just the summer games.

    1. Doug:

      All the more reason for the IOC to add new sports to the games. More “off-season” footage for The Channel… Why not synchronized luge for the winter games???

  2. I will remain hopeful that the Olympic Channel will have its moments. Mexico City, 1968, for example.

    1. Tenacious P: If they are filling 168 hours a week for 52 weeks a year, Mexico City in 1968 will be on their menu – – and it will become tiresome with over-exposure.

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