When the English Football (~soccer)season started in August, and I decided that I would attempt to keep up with teams this year. I’ve done slightly better than last year, but it has mostly been a year of international rugby and cricket for me. As far as I can tell there are no college sports to watch on TV, so professional sports are your focus. Football definitely is the most popular and your local football team gains all the attention. The domestic cricket season runs from April to September, domestic rugby union from September to May, and domestic football from August to May. From what I’ve heard, football draws from middle to working class, while rugby and cricket are more middle to upper class.
I finally made it to my first football game this weekend. I saw Sunderland play Manchester City with my older son. Other than Newcastle (which I tend to hear more about), Sunderland is the other local premiership team (they were promoted from a lower league this year). They dominated the game but unfortunately lost, based partially on poor officiating. A couple of interesting differences from US sports … 1) alcohol is sold but you can’t bring it into the seating area, 2) the away team fans only enter through specific doors and all their seats are together with police separating their seats from the locals’ in the stands, 3) the concession stands closed as soon as the second half started, 4) one side or the other was constantly singing fight songs. It was quite an experience. I definitely hope to see more, but the tickets are much more expensive than other sports so it won’t be too often.
Wikipedia has a decent article about general football stuff. The most interesting thing is the league structures: the leagues are ranked (premiership, championship, league 1, league 2,…) and are all connected. Although there are different leagues they aren’t separated into major league-minor league divisions–any team could potentially play in the top division. At the end of the season the bottom 3 teams are ‘relegated’ to the next lower league and the top 3 teams are ‘promoted’ to the next higher league. There is also the Champions league, which is the pan-European league of teams and only the top teams in a country can participate in this league.