Yes, this week’s PSL celebrates the debut of English Premier League coverage on Pittsburgh television via the NBC Sports cable channel (and NBC network TV). I will not use this space to compare the strengths and weaknesses of English football (do not make me use the “s word”) and American football. If you are looking for a somewhat entertaining depiction of the some of the differences between the two, NBC Sports posted this video on its website for you:
The United States Supreme Court is fond of using Webster’s Dictionary when it attempts to figure out the plain meaning of statutory language. Webster’s defines the noun “renegade” as “someone who rebels and becomes an outlaw.” People around these parts who spend (on average) every other Sunday during American football season inside Heinz Field may think of themselves as renegades. Some of those same people may have also thought they were renegading at the Benedum last night (August 17).
But I think the real Pittsburgh renegades spend every Saturday during English football season inside Piper’s Pub. These folks have rejected conventional Pittsburgh behavior and thus fit into the definition of “renegade” better. Instead of spending last night at a Styx rock concert, these football fans were more likely at the Big Country rock concert at the Altar Bar. Yes, I know Big Country is Scottish, not English. But Stuart Adamson, the band’s legendary frontman during the height of their popularity in the 1980s, was born in Manchester and was a lifelong supporter of Dunfermline Athletic Football Club.
The idea of celebrating the start of the Premier League season in my blawg actually sprang from the announcement in my Allegheny County Bar Association’s e-newsletter that open registration for its fall 2013 membership “soccer league” had begun. Then I read some English football-related news stories with legal twists that I thought were worth sharing.
But, first, I need to define some organizational terms:
English Premier League (formerly the FA Premier League) = Barclay’s Premier League.
The FA (Football Association) – the governing body of football in England, including the Premier League and the Football League levels (Championship, League One and League Two) below it. It is a member of UEFA.
The PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association) - the English football players’ union.
The UEFA (Union of European Football Association) – the administrative body for 54 national association members in Europe. It is a member of FIFA.
The UEFA Champions League – a tournament of the best clubs from its national association members. The size of NCAA men’s basketball tournament, it runs simultaneous with the league schedules and is single-elimination at some stages.
The UEFA Europa League – think NIT with Champions League schedule and stages.
The FIFA (in English, the International Federation of Association Football) – the international governing body of association football (currently 209 national associations).
So, with that introduction, the aforementioned stories fell into these categories:
These topics are all-too-familiar ones to American (and Pittsburgh) sports fans.
Even if I were to narrow the stories further to those that were results-related, i.e. who scored and who did not, the one major English Premier League change this season has been a hot debate topic in the National Football League for years: instant replay.
Despite all these similarities, it is still a lot less popular to be an EPL fan in Pittsburgh 2013 than an NFL fan. But, to the real Pittsburgh renegades, I say: “Carry on my wayward son[s and daughters].”
By the way, Big Country’s second LP released in 1984 was entitled “Steeltown.” The title track is about local workers who, after decades of full employment, became unemployed with the decline of industry in the early 1980s. Does that sound familiar?
(Top image: A New York City subway car bears advertising for NBC's coverage of the English Premier soccer League. The network, which spent $250 million to win the U.S. broadcast rights to the English Premier League for the next three seasons. Mark Lennihan/Associated Press)