Two Soccer Notes…

Every once in a while, I go “grazing” on the Internet to see if there are any soccer items that might be of interest here.  Last week I ran across two such tid-bits.  The first one comes from the Welsh Football League – – Division 2.  At some point in the upcoming season, the following two teams will square off:

  • Ynyshir Albions versus Ynysygerwn

Copy editors everywhere are already planning to call in sick the next day.  The entire country of Wales needs to on Wheel of Fortune just to be able to buy some vowels.

The second tid-bit comes from the Highland Football League in Scotland; one of the teams there is Fort William FC.  On 31 July of this year, Fort William FC beat Nairn County by a score of 5-2.  Here is why that is noteworthy:

  • In the 2017/18 season, Fort William FC went winless in all 34 of their league games and only managed 5 ties.
  • In 2018/19, Fort William FC started 0-5 and then the league penalized them 9 points for using an ineligible player in 3 of those games.  They could not even cheat effectively.  The team result for the 2019 season was no wins in 34 games and only 2 ties.  The team finished with negative – 7 points for the season thanks to that league-imposed penalty.

The win over Nairn County about a week ago was the first win for Fort William in 707 days and broke a 73-game losing streak.  Fort William is a small town in the western part of the Scottish Highlands; the population there is about 10,000 souls; I suspect there was a lot of celebrating there on the evening of July 31…

This year, the NBA offseason has been interesting and attention-grabbing.  While most of the drama seems to have happened, there remains one player-situation that could become a big deal before the teams report to training camp in late September.  [No.  I am not talking about the possible return of Carmelo Anthony to an NBA roster or about Jeremy Lin finding a landing place in the league.]  The player-situation I am referring to involves Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards.  He is currently eligible to sign a contract extension worth $112M; the Wizards have put that offer on the table for Beal’s consideration.  That offer can be valid until the opening day of the next NBA season which is October 16.

If he declines that offer, he might choose to stay in DC and hope to be eligible for a Super Max contract in the next two years there.  He will need to make one of the All-NBA teams or be named Defensive Player of the Year (that will NOT be happening) in order to qualify for a Super Max.  Alternatively, he could engineer a trade and say sayonara to the Wizards to go and chase a championship elsewhere.  It’s not a huge deal as compared to the decisions made by the likes of Kevin Durant and Kawai Leonard – – but the movement of very good players may not be over and done with for this NBA offseason.

The intense interest in the NBA offseason has been heralded as a big win for the NBA as it keeps “league business” front and center in the sporting conversation through the summer months.  Yes, that is a good thing, but it not an unalloyed success.  Here is something that the NBA needs to recognize:

  • The NBA already has fans looking past the regular season to consider the playoffs.
  • Fans and commentators are already talking about various possibilities in the first round of the playoffs next year.
  • The NBA does not need for its fans to have any reasons to ignore more of the 1230 regular season games.

As things stand already, at least half of those regular season games are of no import and can be readily ignored – – unless you like watching dunks and 3-point shot attempts.  A serious problem facing the NBA is the inexorable fact that the league consists of two categories of teams; those that have a chance to “make a playoff run” and those that do not.  That categorization is clear on Halloween; then the season happens, and it does not conclude until after your tax return is due in the hands of the IRS the next spring.  That is a long time to hold the attention of fans while they wait for a fait accompli.

Oh, but it does not end there…  The NBA and its fans must come to grips with the fact that a new era has dawned.  Professional basketball in the US is now part of the Age of Load Management (ALM).  The inexorable fact of life in ALM is that a fan who tunes into a game – or purchases a ticket to and see a game at an arena – cannot rely on seeing star players perform even when those star players are perfectly healthy.  Now, if you think as I do that far too many NBA regular season games are nothing more than an exhibition of dunks and 3-point shot attempts, the last thing you want to see is such a contest populated by the junior varsity.  Here is the only reason I might want to watch such an event:

  • It might be interesting to see traveling called on some of the junior varsity players and then compare those calls to the ones not made when the stars come back to play in the next game.

Finally, since I mentioned above the Welsh football nightmare game for copy editors, here is a similar observation from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“Among the twosomes playing in the LPGA Tour’s Dow Great Lakes Invitational team event: Pajaree Anannarukarn and Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras.

“The Society of One-Column Headline Writers immediately filed a grievance.”

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