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Why Good Friday Is Indeed a Good Day

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All over the world Christians are marking the most solemn day in the liturgical calendar. It is the day we observe the crucifixion of Jesus in Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans. This brutal form of capital punishment employed by Caesar’s minions was meant to be a very public kind of intimidation, and it was employed against enemies of Rome or anyone else, like Jesus, who got in the way.

The Romans used this barbaric means of execution from the 6th century B.C. until 337, when Emperor Constantine banned the practice as he embraced Christianity. Over that time it is impossible to estimate how many people died the slow, excruciatingly painful death on a cross; however, there is the most famous victim, and on this day we honor Jesus and call the day “good” even if he went through a horrific time that defies comprehension.

During the time called Lent we Christians reenact the Way of the Cross. This marks the journey Jesus took from conviction under Pontius Pilate to the moment he dies on the cross. Many images and films have been made over the years of this event, and the Stations of the Cross are performed in various ways in churches, including full action productions that include people playing the parts of Romans, citizens, and Jesus.

Looking in from the outside, some people may question all this. I know my friends who are not Christian ask, “Why would they call this ‘good’ Friday?” The answer is that it is an inherently good day because of what is to come, not due to what happens on the day itself. The death of Jesus on the cross is a solemn event, but one that has to occur. We cry for the death of the man but realize that nothing could destroy his spirit, which is what makes him ultimately victorious in what seems to be the end of things.

Over the years many films have depicted the torture Jesus went through, and none does it more graphically than Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, which chronicles the enormous brutality of the event. Many people protested against the film for its violent nature, but it was far more realistic than many films that show an almost pristine Christ getting nailed to the cross without a hair out of place.

What happened on this day to Jesus was sadistic, barbaric, ugly, and uncivilized. What could we expect from an empire that allowed the gladiators to be the greatest form of entertainment in its capital city? Besides the fact of the cruelty inflicted on Jesus and that he dies in excruciating pain, we Christians still call the day “good” because we know it was not the end but just the beginning. For those who don’t believe, it was just a terrible death of a man and nothing more. Only faith allows us to see the magnificence of the moment.

On Easter Sunday Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead, defeating evil and creating a pathway for everyone to salvation. This is our faith. Otherwise, Easter is just another Sunday: one with a parade of people in silly hats, or maybe it’s a day for finding colorful eggs under the sofa and getting chocolate bunnies for the kids. Like Christmas, Easter can be appropriated for a secular celebration, and there is nothing wrong with that. I am sure Jesus wouldn’t mind, so why should anyone else.

Good Friday is a culmination, one that Christians have been preparing for since they received ashes on their foreheads at the start of the Lenten season. Those ashes are a reminder of our mortality at the start of a time that is haunting in its significance. We are supposed to give up something, help those less fortunate, refrain from eating meat on Fridays, participate in the Stations of the Cross, and go to confession more often. All of this is preparation for Good Friday – a day that changed everything.

So yes, today is a “good” day indeed if you believe. We Christians believe that Good Friday is the day that death no longer had dominion. Death and Satan may have been doing a dance on this day, thinking that they both had won big time; however, we believe on Easter Sunday they both hung their heads and sulked in defeat. Jesus not only defeated them but saved us, and that couldn’t have happened without that Friday that we mark every year as “good.”

Photo credits: crosses – jesuits.org; jesus – spreadjesus.org

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About Victor Lana

Victor Lana's stories, articles, and poems have been published in literary magazines and online. His books 'A Death in Prague' (2002), 'Move' (2003), 'The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories' (2005), and 'Like a Passing Shadow' (2009) are available in print, online, and as e-books. His latest books 'If the Fates Allow: New York Christmas Stories,' 'Garden of Ghosts,' and 'Flashes in the Pan' are available exclusively on Amazon. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated on writing mostly fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as a faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with 'Blogcritics Magazine' since July 2005 and has written well over 500 articles; previously co-head sports editor, he now is a Culture and Society editor. Having traveled extensively, Victor has visited six continents and intends to get to Antarctica someday where he figures a few ideas for new stories await him.
  • Glenn Contrarian

    Um, no, it’s for those who eat way too much fatty or sugary foods. I remember when I first got it I had no idea what it was. I went to the local Navy hospital. The doctor looked at the extremely swollen ball of my right foot, and tapped it. I nearly hit the roof (and I do have a significant pain tolerance). The doctor said with a big grin on his face “Yep, you have gout!”

    This is known as “building character”.

  • Dr Dreadful


    I thought that was the exclusive province of irascible, moustachioed old English aristocrats, sitting around in their palatial drawing rooms with one bandaged foot up on a stool, muttering softly to themselves about the plebs as they finger the shotguns on their laps and warily eye the mounted deer heads on the wall…

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    If you want kebabs and falafel, go to Vancouver, B.C.

    What surprised me was that I saw quite a few in Manila – probably because there’s so many Filipinos who work in the Middle East and learned to like some of the food there. My son and I found a nice Persian restaurant there and ordered something the menu called “Mega Kebab III” (obviously meant to be said loudly, with lots of reverb). It was really, truly good…and I got a raging case of gout that lasted three weeks. It hurt.

    But it was worth it, if only to say that there is such a thing as “Mega Kebab III”!

  • Dr Dreadful

    Melbourne, on the frontiers of civilization, isn’t quite as far from you as Sydders, Stan, and I know there are some decent Lebanese places there, if you have the odd day and a half and cash to spare for a quick whizz across on Jetstar or Virgin Blue.

    I’d seriously consider going that far for a falafel.

    On our first trip Down Under nine years ago, the first thing we saw when we walked out of the hotel on our first morning in Melbourne was a good old, honest to goodness high street kebab shop.

    First one I’d seen since I left Blighty.

    I said to my wife, “Forget breakfast. We’re eating here.” Heaven – 70 virgins or no 70 virgins. 🙂

  • roger nowosielski

    “The filters let a ship load of spam through, but block fair dinkum commentators.”

    Ain’t that the truth. Spoken, besides, like a true mate.

  • Stan, I’ve freed your comment.

    The filter does actually block a huge amount of spam from the site (over 1,300 in the last 24 hours alone) but it has been having a higher number of false positives than normal recently.

    Hopefully when the move to WordPress is completed, things will improve.

  • STM

    Doc, they’ve blocked another of my innocuous comments. Please give it liberty.

    What gives with techno-ratty?? The filters let a ship load of spam through, but block fair dinkum commentators.

    Like a million other things in this world, it don’t make no sense.

  • STM

    Actually Doc, that’s not so much the case when it’s GB.

    My view is: if rugby league is to be played internationally by Wales or England instead of GB, then it should played against state teams from NSW and Queensland, not against Australia.

    As for France, they once had plenty of promise but rugby league is really only played in the south of France, and it’s a marginal sport compared to rugby (the original union game).

    Interestingly, foreign teams now play in the RL world cup, and of course there’s a team from Lebanon – which mainly seems to be made of blokes from the Sydney suburbs of Balmain, Dulwich Hill and Bankstown.

    They call themselves the cedars, but they should call themselves the Mixed Plates or The Falafels – because everyone in Oz loves a good mixed plate or a decent falafel roll, and only the Lebanese can make a cracker one.

    I’m missing Lebanese food since leaving Steak and Kidney (I’ve only found one good joint) – if you ever go back to Sydney Doc, you have to go into the city to The Prophet restaurant in Cleveland St, Surry Hills.

    If there’s better food than the mixed plate from there – and it’s a very close second at a dozen other Lebanese joints I love – I’ll eat my hat. And that won’t be any time soon.

    Cheers guys. Off for a kip …

  • Dr Dreadful

    LOL. I’ve got some mates from New Zealand. They’ve lived in Fiji for years now, but by all accounts they still don’t bother with vowels.

    Rugby league was an exclusively northern and working class sport in England until the 1980s, and to a large extent it still is.

    Oddly enough, professional association football was originally also exclusively northern. You ended up with a strange situation in which all across the north of England you had one town with a soccer club, and then if you were to travel a few miles to the next town you’d find everyone following rugby league.

    There were a few places – Hull, Bradford and Wigan for example – that had both, but one sport always ended up becoming dominant.

    Speaking of rugby league, that’s one sport in England (and France and Wales, which supply one team each) that doesn’t have automatic promotion and relegation, at least not into and out of the Super League. In the global context of that particular sport it probably makes sense, if there’s ever to be a change in the situation wherein when a European team plays a Southern Hemisphere team, the match invariably concludes with the Aussies or Kiwis ripping the Europeans into little bits and then jumping up and down on them.

  • STM

    BTW Doc, the soccer team you mentioned before, Wigan, well that particular town has a very well known sporting pedigree.

    Wigan Warriors might be the world’s most successful Rugby League club.

    The Cherry and Whites have certainly carved up the English RL premiership over the last 100 years or so … and over the years, even before the advent of Super League, that club produced some of the most exciting rugby league footballers you’ll ever see playing the game.

    And because they’re from ooop nooorth, and once from’t mines and factories, they’re tough bug.gers too.

  • STM

    Doc writes: “I wonder if zing has a doppelganger in the Punjab, who comments under the name zingh zingh.”

    Tee hee.

    I wonder if he has one in New Zealand, who comments under the name zung zung.

  • STM

    Roger: “To a Brit or an Aussie, a European or a South American, it’d be of no consequence because it’s in their blood.”

    Wrong, Rog. Soccer is a fourth-tier summer sport in Australia, and gets small crowds.

    Not saying that’s how it should be, but two different codes of rugby, and the native game of Australian Rules Football, are the main winter sports here, depending on where you live on the continent.

    Regarding the latter, it has very few rules. It is played on a huge, oval ground by two teams of 18 players and resembles an all-in brawl involving a very bouncy, oval shaped ball.

    Rugby League, the other big sport in Australia, is like American football in its strategic intent, but without the pads.

    Rugby Union runs a close third. It’s my choice for the best game, and it’s played across the globe, unlike th other two.

    I do like to watch English soccer though. The skills on display are phenomenal.

    Just not really my bag.

  • Speaking of international boundaries, I wonder if zing has a doppelganger in the Punjab, who comments under the name of zingh zingh? Now that would be fun.

  • roger nowosielski

    If the idea behind it, and if that’s what you mean, is to eliminate boundaries, borders and so on, and to substitute warfare with individual or group competition, then I wholeheartedly agree.

    El Cid comes to mind, where dispute among nations was reduced to hand-to-hand combat between the respective champions.

    Of course, we’ve done a 180 or a 360 turn since “the good old days.” Determined not to risk anything, not even a single human life, we’ve resorted to drone attacks, a far more civilized way to conduct warfare, taking away all the drama.

    It’s all antiseptic now, no different than washing your hands.

  • Zing zing

    Sport is the one good thing about international boundaries. It allows us to compete for excellence instead of money or body counts.

  • roger nowosielski

    BTW, so have I, zing, when still at Poland. But I’ve put it behind me, for better or worse, and am no longer a fanatic.

    Troll had said it right, I think. Anyone who’s fascinated with sports, not exact quote, I’m certain, is not to be trusted.

    I concur.

  • roger nowosielski

    I admit it. With all the spam attacks of late, it’s been kinda dull here, so yes, I’m itching.

  • someone’s looking for a fight

  • roger nowosielski

    In that case, I take it back.

  • Zingzing

    Cheap, roger. I grew up playing the game. Don’t lay my failings on my love of der futbol. That’s just lazy.

  • roger nowosielski

    No wonder you’re not a man of ideas, zing. You watch football too much. To a Brit or an Aussie, a European or a South American, it’d be of no consequence because it’s in their blood. But for a Yank? Give me a break!

    Or is it perhaps that you’re trying to impress your “peers” ’bout your knowledge of the game? That would be sad, too, for it would convey a sense of inferiority, so I do hope, sincerely hope, that I’m wrong, dead-wrong.

  • Zingzing

    and that’s why I watch international football. I’ve tried to get into mls, but I can shrug off a New York loss in minutes, while a u.s. loss will send me me into a glorious spiral for days. That tie in Mexico earlier this month? Euphoric. That’s the sport at its best, and that’s what makes it the greatest sport in the world. No contracts, no money, plenty of politics (fuck you, Costa Rica), just the best players you can field (think TEAM klinnsman), and the only good reason for patriotism (and maybe nationalism, although we’ve gone quite German recently, which may or may not be troubling,) that I can think of. Not that FIFA isn’t without issues…

  • Zingzing

    I just wrote a long comment, but the iPad decided to delete it. In the end, every team should theoretically be able to compete, and I just don’t see that in the epl, and I think that the relegation system is an impediment to that ever being a reality. You will have the financial giants able to field a championship team, and below those few, you will have no-hopers. The cost of fielding a team capable of winning the title is just beyond the ability of a vast majority of the teams. But that’s how the game developed.

  • Dr Dreadful

    UEFA, the European governing body, is introducing controls, but they are aimed at preventing a club from spending beyond its means rather than limiting what they can spend. Basically, clubs must send copies of their accounts to UEFA to demonstrate that they are solvent. If they can’t, they’ll face sanctions such as being banned from European competition or from signing new players.

  • zingzing

    “Zingzing, I think we’ve taken this riff about as far as it can go…”

    the brick wall of reality, eh? if all we can do is agree to disagree about whether man u spends a load of money (they do, they do), i guess we’re at a stopping point on that one.

    has anyone ever suggested a salary cap/luxury tax system for a major soccer league? are there any controls on how much a team can spend?

  • Replace the refs with robots!

  • Dr Dreadful

    Whether it was intentional or not, it was dangerous play. Besides which, there’s no consistency. Every week we see players going in to tackle and winning the ball cleanly without even touching their opponent, and the ref still gives a free kick!

  • Agreed, that was a bad tackle, but wasn’t it also accidental rather than intentional? Some players, such as Paul Scholes, simply can’t tackle to save their lives!

  • Dr Dreadful

    Probably, especially now Stan’s thrown in his two plastic Aussie bucks’ worth. 🙂

    Speaking of things we’re not happy about, one of those would be the histrionics that are all too familiar in modern football.

    Sometimes the pain is genuine. At top level the game is played literally at breakneck speed and every player goes into a tackle knowing there’s a chance he or she could be badly injured in the next split-second.

    Unfortunately, the play-actors have made the football field a more dangerous place because their antics cause not only referees, but also players, fans, coaches and even clubs’ medical staff, to be sceptical about whether an injury is real.

    So you get situations like the horror tackle by Wigan’s McManaman on Newcastle’s Haidara a couple of weeks ago, wherein Haidara could have been crippled for life and the ref didn’t even give a free kick.

  • Zingzing, I think we’ve taken this riff about as far as it can go…

  • Zingzing

    Man U hasn’t been shy about spending either. As for the last 10 years thing, it’s the state of the game today…

  • Zingzing, picking on the last 10 years is fairly arbitrary, but it does pretty much coincide with the big investment era of Chelsea and Manchester City.

    It is not a period I’m too happy about either but it is showing signs of coming to an end as other clubs have stepped up their performance and look like breaking that narrow dominance. Fingers crossed it works out that way.

    Stan, as cheery as ever I see!

  • STM

    make that “go in hard”.

  • STM

    How come Poms (and quasi-Poms) always end up talking about soccer.

    What a disgrace of a game:

    22 overpaid bogans with earrings and Bentleys booting a bag of wind up and down the field on the forlorn hope that at some point, it might find its way to thye back of the net.

    Better acting than Hollywood (“Ooh, aah, me knee, me knee, someone hit it with a feather, now I can’t get up and I’ll have to be carted off on a stretcher. Don’t forget to pick up me handbag on the way out”).

    And more diving than the Olympics.

    It’s a load of bollocks.

    Best off as a sheila’s sport. At least they in hard.

  • Zingzing

    “Total player money” may be a better phrase than “total player wages” in that first sentence.

  • Zingzing

    and yet only once in the past decade has a team outside of the top-3 (and almost always top-2) in total player wages (transfer plus salaries) been able to take the title (and that was Man U in 2006-7, when they spent relatively little in the transfer market, but were still #2 in salary). Maybe the ability to spend money comes from making money, which comes from success on the field, but the numbers are overwhelmingly suggestive of the idea that you have to spend more money than the next team to have a shot at the title. Doesn’t hurt if it’s well-spent, of course…

  • Dr Dreadful

    Liverpool’s success didn’t come from money, though. Their secret was a combination of internal stability, team spirit, a series of master coaches each of whom had learned at the feet of his predecessor, a strong scouting program and shrewd work in the transfer market.

    And like I said, it was Arsenal and then Man U, neither of whom had massive financial clout, who eventually assumed the mantle from the Scousers. Their ongoing success has been based very much on the Anfield model.

    In fact, it was arguably Blackburn Rovers in 1995 who were the first club to buy their way to the Premier League title, on the back of owner Jack Walker’s millions.

  • zingzing

    liverpool opened up pandora’s box. it’ll be difficult to go back to the old, competitive ways. unless you institute a salary cap and get rid of relegation… lalalala.

  • Up until the late 1970s the English league was the most evenly-matched and competitive in the world. It was rare for any team to retain the title; to achieve the Double (League Championship and FA Cup in the same season) was even rarer; and only two, Huddersfield and Arsenal, had ever succeeded in being champions three years in a row (coached by the same man, the legendary Herbert Chapman).

    That all changed with the Liverpool sides of the late 70s and 80s, who showed how it was possible to win the thing almost constantly. Even so, it was still possible for unfancied teams like QPR, Ipswich, Watford, West Brom and Norwich to take respectable tilts at the title occasionally, and a few – Derby County (twice), Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa – actually managed to win it.

    When Liverpool eventually went off the boil the void was filled briefly by Arsenal and then by Manchester United, who’ve continued to occupy that position, and the current “Big Four” has coalesced around those two.

    From being equally hard to win for all the teams in it, the championship of England has now become relatively easy to win for three or four teams, and damn near impossible for anyone else.

    That, as Chris says, may change in the near future: Tottenham, Everton and a couple of others are starting to achieve a level of consistency that they can build on, hopefully enough to break up the big boys’ party a bit. And hopefully, enough to demonstrate to everyone else that perhaps billions of quid aren’t a prerequisite for the grand prize.

  • Obviously it’s true that money plays a big part in performance, not only because of the quality of the players a team can support, but also because of the size of the squad and the quality of the support facilities.

    That said, United have never had the same deep financial resources available to them as teams like Chelsea and City, which is partly why they have sold many of their biggest stars over the years, (most annoyingly Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid), which is why I feel we have earned our success rather than bought it like those two teams.

    According to Wikipedia, a total of 45 teams have been in the Premier League since its inception back in 1992 and only seven have been ever present (Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur) although that might be going down to six unless Villa get their act together in the next few weeks.

    Including the old First Division, the team that has been in the top division the most is Everton with 110 years. By comparison United have only been at the top level for a modest 88 years since 1892.

    Arsenal and Blackburn Rovers are the only two teams to have won the title with significantly less resources than the other winners but that is probably going to change in the next few years as teams like Tottenham, Liverpool, Everton and Newcastle have all improved significantly in quality in the last couple of years.

    I actually prefer it when there is more unpredictability, even if it means United winning less often, so hopefully the next few years are going to be even better than the recent past.

    As to Wimbledon, they actually relocated the club out of London and changed their name, thinking it would be better for them financially but it hasn’t worked out that way!

  • Zingzing

    Relegation makes sure there’s at least an illusion of parity and fluidity, but the reality is that one of the big spenders is going to win the title every year. When’s the last time a top-5 spending team didn’t win it, I wonder… Compare that with baseball and American football, where mid-market teams win the title with some regularity, while small market teams have won it all many times (especially in the nfl).

    Doc, where’s Wimbledon now? They had a moment, but I’d bet they’re back where the money suggests they should be by now.

  • Zingzing

    “In the 80s Liverpool were the dominant team but changes in personnel, both on and off the pitch, combined with the unbelievable impact of the Hillsborough disaster (a policing scandal which is still unfolding) destroyed the team spirit and their success faded away into nothing, a vacuuum that still exists to this day, over a generation later.”

    True, but they aren’t in any trouble of relegation. They seem to consistently knock on the door, but seem to always sit just outside of that top-4.

    I’d be willing to bet that the amount of money spent roughly correlates to the amount of points a given team will have in the table. Sure, there will be a few outliers, but those that are willing and able to spend on players will have greater success in the long run. Not that that’s surprising.

  • Glenn, your point may have some validity but you are taking my remark so far out of context that I can’t follow you, not meaning that I don’t understand you, just that I don’t see what your point has to do with this conversation…

  • G l e n n C o n t r a r i a n

    Chris –

    Fortunately for we humans, it isn’t all about the money; in the end it is about passion and commitment, about who wants something more and who does the right thing.

    I’d say that depends on which end of the financial spectrum you’re from. While Vietnam serves wonderfully to support your point, the opposite seems just as likely when we look at the growing income inequality gap, and at how so many CEO’s are willing to do that which hurts millions of people just to make their shareholders a little bit happier.

    Don’t get me wrong – I agree with your statement. It’s just that sociopathy is becoming accepted and encouraged in certain circles of our society.

  • Hi doc, I wasn’t aware of that, so thanks for the info. Presumably those changes were economically inspired?

  • For Chris, who like me appreciates the fact that the promotion-relegation system ensures a constant supply of new blood, it is worth noting that the same sort of evolution does happen in American pro sports, although the mechanism is different.

    For example, of the 16 teams who participated in the inaugural season of the National Football League in 1920, not a single one of them still exists. Similarly, in baseball, of all the currently extant teams only the Atlanta Braves and the Chicago Cubs were on the scene when organized professional league play got started in the US in the 1870s.

    Ironically, of the 12 founding members of the Football League in England in 1888, all with the exception of Accrington still exist and are still members of either the Football League or the Premier League. (Accrington Stanley, who currently play in League Two, are unrelated to the other club, which went bust in 1896.)

  • And while their rise has been less dramatic, it’s worth pointing out that one current Premier League club, Wigan Athletic, were also a non-league team less than 35 years ago.

  • The reason I like the promotion-relegation system most football leagues around the world have is the romance of it.

    This is especially so in England, which has a pyramid system covering the game at multiple levels from the Premier League all the way down to the Mid-Sussex Football League 11th Division, 23 divisions below. There is promotion and relegation between each level, so in theory, it would be possible for a team to join Mid-Sussex Division 11 and work their way all the way up to the Premier to play the likes of Man U, Arsenal and Chelsea – entirely on merit.

    Not that this has ever happened, but in 1977 Wimbledon were elected from the Southern League to what was then the Fourth Division. Within 11 years they had been promoted to the top flight and won the FA Cup, beating Liverpool in the final in one of the biggest upsets the game had ever seen.

  • That’s a very bleak view, Zingzing, but I don’t think things work that way.

    In the 80s Liverpool were the dominant team but changes in personnel, both on and off the pitch, combined with the unbelievable impact of the Hillsborough disaster (a policing scandal which is still unfolding) destroyed the team spirit and their success faded away into nothing, a vacuuum that still exists to this day, over a generation later.

    Outside of sports, look at Vietnam; a small but determined rag tag army defeated the money and power of the United States.

    Fortunately for we humans, it isn’t all about the money; in the end it is about passion and commitment, about who wants something more and who does the right thing.

    That’s why empires, sporting or political, can never last for ever, and why relegation is so important to a healthy sporting environment…

  • Rangers will probably be back in the top division by the end of next season if the proposed league reorganization goes through and they get placed in the division they want to be placed in.

    Money, in this instance, doesn’t so much talk as holler. Rangers’ financial plight is not unique in Scotland. Another Premier League club, Livingston, went through exactly the same thing a few seasons back and were demoted, just like Rangers, to the Third Division. The clamour of people proposing that the league should be reorganized to facilitate a quick return to the top flight for them was deafening in its absence…

    Then again, Scottish football is a special case. It’s in disarray from decades of maladministration and can’t seem to get through more than three or four seasons without a league reorganization. Going from two large divisions to four small ones, as they did in the mid-70s, was a huge mistake as it removed any steady competition that Celtic and Rangers had and transformed the nation from a global football powerhouse to the minnows they are today.

    English football, by contrast, is on far sturdier foundations and can easily survive any hypothetical relegation of a Man U, a Chelsea or a Liverpool.

  • zingzing

    man u may eventually be relegated, but it won’t last long. what decides their future is the money. if the money remains, so will they. if they make some bad business decisions, which is a possibility, that’s what will really get them. same happens on the other side of the equation. a less well-endowed team might rise up, but if they do, their players will be gobbled up by the teams with money, and they will descend into the muck again. i’m sure it occasionally occurs that a smaller club makes it up to the premiership and stays there, and that a rich club sometimes just can’t get it together enough to stay in the premiership.

    i’ll bet you that rangers fc are back in the scottish highest level before the end of the decade, if they can get their money straight. that’s the overwhelming factor in their future success.

    all that said, i like relegation. it guarantees fresh blood, although it’s more often fresh meat (or angry, humiliated monsters).

  • Zingzing, that’s not really the case in reality. There are many once great clubs that have fallen away despite their support and new teams rise up through the ranks all the time.

    It’s evolution playing out before our very eyes.

    I doubt even Manchester United are beyond being relegated; it’s happened before and may well again when the inevitable post-Fergie wobbles happen.

    It’s a delightfully uncertain game, just like life itself!

  • The American pro league system, with small groups of teams playing in regional divisions, does sustain interest because it leaves a lot of teams still in with a chance of making the playoffs for much of the season.

    Contrast this with the English Premier League, where if you’re a fan of a Fulham or a Stoke or some other mid-table team it’s hard to remain excited when you’re two-thirds of the way through a season, you’re out of both cup competitions, and you’re both safe from relegation and out of reach of the European qualifying places.

    Of course, the American system can lead to the situation where an absolutely terrible team makes the playoffs solely because all the other teams in its division happen to be even more terrible. And because the competition moves at this point to sudden death, that terrible team can, with a bit of luck, go on and win the whole thing.

    Bit of a travesty, really. At least with the English league system you can be reasonably confident that after 38 rounds of games, everyone playing everyone else once home and away, the best team has won it all.

    But like zing said, both systems have their pluses and minuses.

  • Zingzing

    And relegation leads to the point where you have the Man Us and man cities and Chelsea’s of the world, which will never be relegated for long, given their fan base and revenue potential. It makes it all about money. There are pitfalls to both systems.

  • Zingzing

    Ultimately, there is nothing at stake even when you do have relegation… Relegation in baseball would dilute the quality of the player pool. Relegation in American football is impossible. And yet they are competitive sports with plenty at stake.

    Your catch-all statement be damned.

  • If a league based sport doesn’t have relegation, it isn’t a truly competitive sport; ultimately there isn’t anything at stake.

  • Zingzing

    Now as to why the mls doesn’t have it… It’s a symptom of the relative lack of profitability of the sport in the us. If the sport could sustain a relegation system, it would be a huge boon to soccer in America. Especially since I see club soccer as just a farm system for international soccer. I’m afraid we’ll never be a proper power until that day comes.

  • Zingzing

    “All this, of course, doesn’t stop anyone loathing Man U, but you have to respect what they’ve achieved.”

    It’s not the team I despise so much. It’s the bandwagon-jumping fans. Beyond that, it’s really a symptom of my hatred of the Yankees, who used to combine both strains of ugliness: biggest spenders with bandwagon fans all over. (But now they’re falling apart because of their spending… Over the hill Alex Rodriguez makes more than the entire Houston Astros lineup, and the luxury tax rules aren’t working out for them.)

    As for Chris’ point about relegation, that’s one way to handle things. Another is the salary cap/luxury tax, which creates parity. The salary cap has worked wonders in the nfl, and now that the luxury tax is more punitive in the MLB, I think the disparity between the haves and have nots will shrink. Besides, the sports are different. In baseball, such a thing couldn’t be because the minor leagues are farm systems for the major league teams, and they function well as such. In American football, the cost of playing a game (both in dollars and in the players’ shelf life) is prohibitive to such an idea. I’d love it if we could have relegation in both sports, but it just doesn’t make sense.

  • Man U have built their ongoing success through consistency and canny management. They are and always were one of the biggest and best-supported clubs in the world, and in that light their relative lack of success until about 20-25 years ago really has to be seen as decades of underachieving.

    It’s their prestige that has enabled them consistently to acquire top players, but for some reason it wasn’t until the advent of Sir Alex Ferguson, who I think we can justifiably call the greatest coach the world has ever seen, that they were able to build steadily on what were already rock-solid foundations.

    They’re also rare among top football clubs in that they’ve resisted the temptation to panic and fire the manager every time they have a blip in form.

    Man City and Chelsea fans really ought to stop whining and enjoy what they’ve got now, because it’s only a matter of time before their mega-wealthy owners lose interest and abandon them to resume their places among the ranks of the also-rans.

    All this, of course, doesn’t stop anyone loathing Man U, but you have to respect what they’ve achieved. 🙂

    And on a personal note, the greatest compliment Kevin Keegan’s legendary Newcastle team of the mid-90s ever got was after they thrashed United 5-0 at St James’ Park one memorable Sunday.

    At his post-match press conference, Sir Alex (he might not have been Sir Alex then – I don’t recall) was asked for his reaction to the game. He said, “I thought we played quite well.”

    That he felt his team – by far and away the best in England – had put in a good performance and had still been utterly played off the park showed just how well he thought Newcastle had played that day.

  • Zingzing

    And now, RVP.

  • That’s right, Zingzing; Manchester Shitty and Chelski bought their success, but Manchester United earned it the hard way, by building a club over time.

  • Zingzing

    Doc–I always get west ham and Tottenham mixed up. No idea why.

    Chris–the airplane crash was tragic for sure. But last year, you saw what money can buy, and that’s championships.

  • llort – lfor!

  • c

    Happy Easter, Victor.

  • llort

    …never trust a sportist

  • Zingzing, you are normally one of my favourite commenters but on your #17 you are way out of line with reality!

    Manchester United fans know more about “sacrifice and pain” than the supporters of most other clubs.

    From the death of almost the entire team in the Munich air crash, to the playing of seasons of football with kids due to that, to the death of their manager and going over 20 years of winning nothing, but still having the highest match attendances in the whole country, we have suffered more than most.

    When I lived there, we used to go to Old Trafford every week; when the first team was playing away, we’d go and watch the reserves.

    It is because of the club’s commitment to playing football in a positive, attacking and creative way that we have succeeded in recent years, never resorting to the negative and ugly tactics used by many teams.

    Our success has been earned the hard way, by sticking to principles of good football over many years and that romantic attacking style is what has carried us to success and fame far beyond our humble Mancunian origins.

    This is in stark contrast to teams like Chelsea and our “noisy neighbours” at Manchester City, both of whom have enjoyed success in recent years for one simple reason, the investment of billions by their unbelievably wealthy owners.

    Clubs like this have never known consistent success or the hard work, commitment and sacrifice that United put in on a regular basis, they have simply bought it.

    Football has become the one true global team sport and it is only natural that our fan base as spread around the world too. It is as ridiculous to argue that only locals should support the club as it would be to argue that only New Yorkers should be fans of Television.

    As to Championships, of course they are special, in football at least, unlike American football, which doesn’t even have relegation, so essentially it is a sterile closed shop.

    When we lost the title to our noisy neighbours last season, especially in the way we did, it really hurt. This season, despite numerous serious injury problems robbing us of several key players for prolonged periods, we have performed at a higher standard than anybody else and fully deserve our current 15 point lead and, hopefully, a record breaking 20th title come season’s end.

  • And zing: Dempsey transferred to Tottenham, which was a very good move, not West Ham, which would have been a sideways one that did nothing for his career.

  • Watching England is hugely frustrating, because they always play as if they’re waiting for their opponents to obligingly step out of the way and let them score. When this doesn’t happen, they start passing the ball pointlessly around among themselves, each outfield player obviously hoping one of the other nine will come up with something clever. This almost never happens either.

    Couple that with the mental trap almost every England manager falls into – the “if I were the England manager I’d…” trap wherein he plays his fantasy eleven rather than eleven players who actually click as a team – and you understand why most English footie fans love their club far more than the national side.

    And yes, they have to win their group to qualify automatically for Brazil. If they finish second they go into a play-off with a second-placed team from one of the other groups. That could be someone like Greece, which would be doable, or it could be someone like France, in which case forget it.

  • Zingzing

    And it must piss off Clint Dempsey that Fulham are ahead of his west ham, when he was main point of attack with Fulham, and is now sitting in midfield with west ham. What a bad transfer for him. Couldn’t have gone worse, really. Went from one of the best strikers in the league to just another chump. Take your aggression out on concacaf, I say.

  • Zingzing

    I suppose you still follow England in World Cup qualifiers. That draw to Montenegro was rather ugly. In eufa, they have to win their group, right?

  • Zingzing

    “Top two,” eh? Rough. I’ve know such sentiments with my Minnesota Vikings, where our offense was the best yet we fell apart at the wrong moments. American football is more forgiving than football football… The Vikings shall rise again, shortly.

  • Never mind top four, we were top two there for a few years, under Kevin Keegan. We were known as The Entertainers because we could overwhelm teams with our skill and fast, free-flowing style. Never did quite win the Premier, though. The closest we came was the 95-96 season, when we had a 12-point lead over Man U going into the New Year, and blew it. Ugh.

    Don’t remember Villa ever being consistently good. Back in the pre-Premier League era they did win the league one year, then followed that up by becoming European champions the next season. But that was only a blip in the wall-to-wall Liverpool domination of the era.

    Arsenal and Spurs were always the dominant London teams until very recently. Chelsea are newcomers on the heavyweight scene. West Ham, Fulham, QPR, Crystal Palace and Wimbledon have come and gone (and Wimbledon have now permanently gone), but none of them have had more than occasional moments in the sun.

  • Zingzing

    West ham and Fulham are london teams, right?

    Right now, the tables go Manchester, Manchester, London, London, London, Liverpool, Liverpool, midlands, wales, London, London.

    How did Swansea and west brom get in the middle of that?

  • Zingzing

    Aston villa is in Birmingham? Oi.

  • Zingzing

    Aston villa. They used to be something. And look at Tottenham… Third, currently. It must piss off London to see Manchester dominating (Liverpool is burning…)

  • Zingzing

    When I was first following premier league, Newcastle was a power, if only top-4 kind of power. There was also another London team that’s since fallen off the map… Not Chelsea, not arsenal…

  • Zingzing

    I’m obviously talking about basketball when I say “national championships,” because all other college sports pale.

  • I know exactly what you mean, zing. When Man U score at Old Trafford, you can hear the complacency in the cheering of the crowd. They expect it. There’s no thrill there.

    You used to get the same thing at Anfield back in the eighties when Liverpool were so dominant. And, sad to say, it’s already starting to happen at Man City too.

    When you go to a game and your team scores, you should go berserk and everybody around you should go berserk as well. It’s a moment to be treasured because it happens so relatively seldom.

    The last time Newcastle won anything (1969 Fairs Cup, the predecessor to the predecessor of the Europa League), I was too young to remember it.

    And now there’s all this hand-wringing in the media because Arsenal haven’t won a trophy for 8 years. Boo sodding hoo.

  • Zingzing

    When my brother and i got separate rooms around the age of 5 (i’m a twin), my mom bought us trash cans, one with the city’s college (wake forest), and one the main state college (university of North Carolina) emblazoned on the sides. I immediately took the city college trash can, and have suffered through my brother’s team winning 3 national championships during his lifetime. But my team has been #1 several times and we’ve had moments in the sun. And when we do make it, I will burn with an intensity he will never know.

  • Zingzing

    That said, 1 out of every 100 Man U fans has a right to be. Same with the Yankees. Fuck the 99%. I root for Everton. There’s nobility in that.

    Championships are special to me, not expected. when they happen, which has only happened once in the last 22 years for me (wake forest university, NCAA soccer championship 2007), they are amazing. Must suck for someone whose hopes are championship or bust every year.

  • Zingzing

    Duke is another team. Fuck them. I don’t care enough about the nba to damn lakers fans to an eternal pit of hellfire.

    But yes, family-sanctioned fans are okay as well. I’m a Minnesota twins and Vikings fan and have never lived in Minnesota. My parents are from there, and there wasn’t a MLB or nfl team within 500 miles of me at the time of my birth and life-long chaining to loving and hating the teams I love and hate and have passion about. Family is the best reason for non-geographic sports fandom. My dad and I talk Minnesota sports all the time. If I ever have a kid, that kid will love the twins and vikes. Or else.

  • Is it just the Yankees and Man U then, zing? What about other “teams everyone loves to hate”, like the Lakers or the Patriots?

    I hope you would at least make an exception for folks who are not residents of the city whose team they support, but nonetheless have some connection with the place. That would let Chris off the hook even though he lives several hundred miles from Manchester.

    It would also absolve me. I wasn’t born in Newcastle, have never lived there, and in fact have only been there three times in my life. Nonetheless, they’re my team because my Dad was born and grew up there and went to St James’ to cheer them on every week as a kid.

    I also still look out for Chelmsford City’s scores for the same reason on my Mum’s side.

    At any rate, it’s a better reason than my brother has for supporting Chelsea because Mum bought him a pair of replica Chelsea shorts from a flea market when he was five.

  • Zingzing

    Everyone knows Man U fans should be slaughtered with the most popular knife in their house. Unless they’re from Manchester and there’s no geographical reason they should go for City. It’s the same with non-Bronx/manhattan NYC residents going for the Yankees. Death. That’s what they deserve. They are subhuman. More than that, they don’t know what sacrifice and pain are, so they should learn it.

  • No, not really. I was simply illustrating that if you love something you can forgive it a lot.

  • Victor, your brain appears to have gone on holiday ahead of your body.

    In response to your dubious claim that you “respect all opinions”, (which I doubt is true, or else you are saying that you respect fascism, gay hatred and nazism), I wrote that “it is ridiculous to respect all views as many of them are absurd” and “I respect people’s rights to believe what they want”.

    Your response was “it is not ridiculous to respect someone’s right to an opinion”, which is what I said, followed by “I don’t necessarily respect the opinion itself”, which directly contradicts the first thing you said!

    This is why you can never completely trust a faithist, their brains are bent double trying to support the contorted logic they ascribe to.

    Doc, I know you mean well, but I don’t think you’re helping, and to compare football tactics to capital punishment is simply surreal!

  • I think Victor and Chris are talking at cross purposes.

    Victor, Chris said nothing about denying anyone’s right to religious belief. He said (and he’s quite correct) that while everyone’s right to have an opinion should be respected, the opinions themselves needn’t be, for example if they are blatantly stupid or obnoxious.

    Chris, one may oppose something an organization does without having to oppose that organization in its entirety. For example, you’ve often been known to criticize the tactics of your favourite team, Manchester United, but that doesn’t mean anyone expects you to give up supporting the club completely.

  • No, Chris, you need to pay attention. I said I don’t oppose someone’s right to religious belief. That is an essential right and to deny people that right is corrupt to say the least.

  • Victor, you need to pay attention.

    I didn’t say it was ridiculous to respect someone’s right to an opinion.

    You said you oppose capital punishment but won’t oppose religions that support it? That’s pretty corrupt…

  • No, Chris, it is not ridiculous to respect someone’s right to an opinion. Not respecting that is ridiculous; however, quite often I don’t necessarily respect the opinion itself.

    Also, I don’t oppose any religion because people have a right to believe whatever they choose to believe or not to have any belief at all.

  • Victor, it is ridiculous to respect all views as many of them are absurd.

    I would go so far as to say that I respect people’s rights to believe what they want to, but actually automatically respecting their views is simply dishonest and corrupting.

    I take it you are opposed to the Christian church as it doesn’t oppose capital punishment?

  • BaulPlair

    Mr. Lana, I don’t respect your silly story, which is provably untrue. I don’t know what your “point of view” is, but if it’s based on a stupid fiction, I don’t respect that either.

    If someone thinks pi equals 87, or that people are stubborn because they are Aries, why would I respect those things? I have considered them and find them bullshit. Perhaps you should respect that, too.

  • I respect all points of view, Baul; even those I don’t agree with. It is “sad” you don’t extend that courtesy.

    And Chris, I am opposed to any form of capital punishment because of my faith.

  • BaulPlair

    Mr. Rose, I don’t find it a good story at all, as it makes no sense. And mr. Lana, I totally agree that only way to believe in such complete bullshit is through faith. Sad, but some folks are foolish like that.

  • “barbaric means of execution”

    Isn’t that a tautology?

  • Oh yes, faith, defined as what victims call it when they have been conned into believing something based on a good story rather than verifiable facts.

    Setting aside the mystical mumbo jumbo, Victor, are you also opposed to the various kinds of “barbaric means of execution” practised in the USA?

  • And I call it faith, Baul.

  • BaulPlair

    What a silly story! If a god really wanted to open up the gates of heaven and forgive everyone, why didn’t he just do so? He’s a god! Instead, he impregnates a poor girl, then 30 years later conspires to have him killed and then come back to life? Sound like a complicated, unnecessarily confusing plan, considering he’s omnipotent. I call bullshit.

  • Igor

    Maybe. But it was 1000 years newer, as various anachronisms have shown.

  • Joseph S Maresca

    I believe that the Shroud of Turin depicts the re-enactment of the crucifixion on Golgotha very poignantly.