Monday, April 19, 2021

European Super League Secession


Yesterday it was formally announced that 12 of the top teams in European Football would be breaking off to form their own European Super League. The proclamation comes after years of rumors and speculation as to whether or not the move would actually take place. Now, on the heals of a season and half of financially fraught football due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, these clubs have officially started secession.

Reactions were unsurprisingly panicked - Twitter went ablaze, UEFA and the Premier League condemned the actions, and FIFA proclaimed that any players who partake in the new league will be banned from the World Cup. Even heads of states like Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron came out against it.

Here in the states I think the scale and weight of the whole situation is a bit muddled. Imagine if Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon, Texas, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame decided to start their own conference. Or if the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, and Cardinals one day announced that they would automatically make the playoffs every year. That's essentially what's happened here. They aren't perfect parallels but that's the level of cultural impact this will have if it goes through.

I don't see any way a genuine fan of sports and competition can support this decision. To me, it's a blatant money grab by these massive global brands - a way to sure up TV/ad revenue without having to earn the right to a share of the pot. Now that's not to say that UEFA and FIFA and the current European format is perfect. And neither are the domestic leagues. But to further enrich the big clubs in Europe is not a solution by any means. In my opinion that's the exact opposite of what should be done. More parity would be better for the fans of the sport, but parity brings increased risk to these giants and their boardrooms don't want that.

In the grand scheme of things this development goes hand in hand with the age-old tale of multinational corporations trying to monopolize their respective industries in any way they can. We've seen it booming in big tech  the last decade or so: Amazon now dominates our streets with delivery trucks, Facebook continues to gobble up subsidiaries, and Google marches on in it's quest to mine every piece of data it possibly can. And much like those companies, these clubs are an everyday part of millions of peoples' lives. But beyond that, these teams are socio-cultural touchstones that people identify with and cherish. These organizations are among the most important institutions in each city they hail from, and to see these billionaire owners shamelessly go against their fan's wishes is a sad site indeed. Like the big tech battle, this Super League is yet another form of deindustrialization that will line the pockets of the mega rich at the expense of average people. People who have been fans of this sport and their respective clubs for generations.

The question is: Are fans/consumers and the governing bodies that represent those people strong/organized enough to stop this? We shall see.

- ZB James

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Go UMass


Last night UMass Hockey took home the schools first ever Division I national title. What an epic victory, I never thought I'd see the day. UMass Athletics were sort of a joke when I was out there - the lacrosse team was good and soccer is always decent, but the big 4 sports were usually pretty mediocre and uninspiring. So for a national title to come back to Amherst is borderline unbelievable. 

Hopefully this win can permeate the entire athletic department, I'd love to see the basketball team return to their mid 90's prominence. And the football team needs any help they can get, my lord. Talk about the most pathetic team maybe in all of Division I lol. Whatever the future holds, this is a moment to truly soak in and enjoy. Go UMass!

- ZB James

Friday, April 9, 2021

ZB's YouTube Cavern #6: Dirty Girls


Not even sure how this popped up on my YouTube feed, but I saw it and it seemed interesting so I clicked. It’s a short film documentary about a group of riot girls who were outsiders at their school in metro LA. Very fascinating piece of history that transports the viewer right into the heart of the 1990’s. The song “Batmobile” by Liz Phair acts as the theme song and my goodness it’s a perfect accompaniment. So alt.

The fact that these are all 8th graders or high schoolers is pretty remarkable. Almost every kid featured here makes some sort of intelligent and well-spoken statement. Even the kids who are critical of the Dirty Girls - they’re being cruel and you may not agree with them but they’re all articulate.

The most interesting part to me was when the documentarian had their classmates read the feminist Sour GRRRL zine that Amber had created. Every single one of their peers just shits all over it, it’s sad but also not surprising. Classic high school group-think bullying.

Their reunion in 2013 is also pretty interesting (below). Cool to see that they were all super into music and ended up forming bands. All in all it’s just a very humble and thoughtful piece of film. The way it simultaneously represents a single moment in time (the mid 90s) while maintaining an overarching relatability (high school bullying, teenage angst) is very unique.

- ZB James