Tuesday, December 16, 2014

MLS Does It Better

To me, arguments about leagues and teams that will never or very rarely play each other are silly. Give me a heated debate over whether Real Madrid or Barcelona will win an upcoming match any day over any argument on whether the English WC squad in 1966 could beat JK's latest USA World Cup squad, or if the LA Galaxy could take on Hull City. 

There's no point. It's not going to happen. Most fans in most leagues don't care, either. 

But it's a sore point for many MLS fans that their league gets little respect from others around the world. Some have dedicated themselves to defending MLS, and they're easy targets for those who want to namecall and heap scorn on them for doing so. No one's mind is ever changed in the back and forth. 

Out of pity for their futile mission, I've decided to put together a list of ways in which MLS is indisputably superior to leagues in Europe. It's not long, I promise. 

MLS pays players on time their promised salary

It may seem like a small, simple thing, but many leagues do not do this. Spain's La Liga has no structure in place to force teams to play their players the salary that is due them. So at times, players go for long stretches without pay. 

MLS games are safe

Fans aren't going to get attacked at MLS games, no matter which team they support. This isn't true at quite a few places in Europe

MLS games aren't racist

Thierry Henry looked forward to that escape in MLS, after years of being abused abroad by racial attacks. And indeed, as his career in MLS and as a player in general finished up this year, Henry affirmed that he never had to deal with racism during his career in the league. With very few exceptions, this is generally true for all MLS players as well. 

MLS has nice facilities

Yes, there's the dreaded turf in a few places, but in general, the fields are nice, the locker rooms are clean, and the bathrooms work. Don't knock these basics until you've been someplace in Europe where that isn't true. I remember Nacho Novo, a player well-traveled in European games, standing on the field in Los Angeles. "This place is amazing," he told me. "The stadium is a jewel." 

Most new teams in MLS are required to have a stadium plan in place, so quite a few have home fields comparable to LA's. (My personal favorite is Real Salt Lake's, since no one asked me.) 

MLS has Robbie Rogers

There's a reason why the only openly-homosexual player in pro soccer today plays in MLS. It isn't an easy situation in Europe. Rogers himself has said that the homophobic culture there abroad is "even worse" than any he ever experienced in the USA before coming out. 

So there you go, MLS fans. If you want to be proud of a league that is financially responsible in how it pays its players, has little to no problems with racism, homophobia and offers nice, safe venues, then be loud about that pride. MLS is without doubt a world leader in those areas. Besides, it's the local league with much easier access to games.

So why not let others support the "superior" European leagues that have racist, homophobic elements who attack fellow fans on a regular basis? 

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