Friday, May 29, 2009

Someone Explain the FA Cup To Me

OK so Everton is taking on Chelsea tomorrow in the FA Cup Final. This, sources have told me, is the Super Bowl of English Football.

I don't get it.

This concept of having a tournament running concurrent to the league season yet totally separate from it is something so bizarre to an American sports fan that it just does not compute to me.

I can kind of see the appeal of it, given:

1. It is the oldest football competition in the world, dating back to 1871.

2. It encompasses all divisions of the FA, giving small clubs from small towns a shot at taking down the big boys.

But then, at the same time, there's the weirdness of having 2 separate championships. That would be like if Major League Baseball had a double elimination tournament running all summer alongside the regular season. How would I know that the teams are trying their hardest during this tournament and not just blowing it off to rest their regulars? How do I know that teams in the FA Cup don't do this (do they?)?

Then there's the fact that the current holders of the FA Cup are Portsmouth FC, who beat Cardiff City to win the trophy last year. Both of these teams, in the paralell universe outside the FA Cup, are not very good, and Everton is playing for the trophy this year despite being a kind of blah team as well.

I guess what I'm saying is, for an American fan, this tournament and the importance of it is oddly foreign.

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