Parity in Football


By Chris Riordan

The detractors of MLS are very quick to point out the leagues’ deficiencies. However, there is something that MLS has, which a lot of Europe ’s top flights don’t … parity. Sure, it’s a bit frustrating seeing the level of team’s play fluctuate so much, week to week. It certainly show’s the lack of a league powerhouse. And this makes it difficult to separate the cream of the crop from the flotsam and jetsam.

However, this is one of the things that make the league exciting. How many top leagues in Europe do you know that are as wide open as MLS, late in the campaign? Every year in England , it seems to be the same top four. I’m sure the supporters of clubs like Newcastle , get tired of watching football shows that only cover the “Big Four”.

Yes, it would be nice to see a little more consistency from teams in MLS. Who can go from looking like a title contender to a bottom feeder, any given match. But what sounds more enticing to fans? Watching your team fight all year in a balanced league, for playoff spots? Or, watching a top heavy league, watching your team fight for the right to … fight off relegation another year?

I realize that a lot of this has to do with the salary restrictions in MLS, and the single entity that the league is. Without these restrictions, teams in larger markets could dominate, just like in the EPL. Yet, isn’t there something that can be done to level the playing field in Europe a bit more?

As has been stated on this site, the FMF maintains a highly competitive league, while keeping the balance that makes each fixture so exciting. Even with this parity, the FMF remains entertaining and continues to dominate CONCACAF regional championships.

While I wouldn’t mind seeing a little more separation between the best and worst teams in MLS … I feel that European leagues could learn at least something of this “parity” from North America .


13 thoughts on “Parity in Football”

  1. I was going to make a post about the wrongheadedness of enforcing parity in an insolvent league, but then I remembered that the Football League for decades had enforced a maximum wage policy and that salary caps were not uncommon even the early days of many sports leagues, and that I was completely wrong.

  2. Also, in my mind Man U fans are no better than Yankees fans and thus forfeit the right to have their opinions taken seriously.

  3. Well the NFL has made a mint on the thought at least that on any given Sunday any team can win. For many years that was less true then it is now, but in any event MLS has to take the same approach. Fans in Utah must feel that they have a chance against NY or Chicago or the league just won’t work.

    No doubt the top teams need to be better on a consistent basis and the overall team quality improved but that is another issue. No one wants the MLS to become a Big 4 and little 16 like the EPL.

  4. I used to think tht paradoy was a good idea…however I have change my mind. The MLS parody means that most teams are made of mediocre nucleaus. The thing I do I like about the EPL is that knowing the top 4 or 6 teams are great it makes the victories against them that much sweeter. I believe the MLS should lower their expansion fee and add a higher salary cap with a salary floor…bringing in better talent per team will help get fans in the seats and rating up…even if youve never seen a foreign soccer game you can see that the MLS lacks talent. That said I support the MLS and even when I dont watch a game I turn on an extra tv to espn or fsc to make sure my ratings count. This is America, one of the wealthiest nations in the world, and we need to start pooring that money into the product on the field….I also think The US Open Cup should be on tv and talked about as its the second oldest cup competition and resembles the popular fa cup.

  5. I love parity because it makes the season more exiting. That is the reason why the NFL is the most exiting sport in the US. You have a feeling during preseason that this may be your year. It also makes the job of management, players and fans more relevant. Parity can happen at a low, medium and high level. I think we are moving forward and we will get parity at very good level.

  6. I think it would be nice to have a tight knit group of 6 or 7 at the top, then some distance after that, in the EPL. It would only add to the intrigue. And I agree, MLS could use more consistency at the very top.

  7. The NHL does not have the most parity. The Islanders haven’t made the playoffs in ages. The Coyotes haven’t ever made playoffs. The small market teams barely have a chance at making playoffs, let alone winning them. On a correlation of points won to payroll, the NHL is about as unbalanced as the NBA and MLB is. The NFL, on this same type of study, is more balanced, primarily because the teams have approximately the same revenue streams and can afford the same players. How do I know? I had to do it for an economic analysis of sports.

  8. I quite like the salary cap, it fits in well with American leagues. I spent years standing out in the cold watching my team go up and down but always be beaten by the top four in the premiership. The level of quality or mediocrity is relative, these guys aren’t playing in the premiership so why always compare them to that? What counts is going to the match and having the belief that your team may come out on top.

    I just wish people would stop being so insecure about the quality in comparison to foreign leagues and just start enjoying having a league. I can say with all honesty that English fans rarely if ever worry about being at the same quality of Spain, Italy or Germany. They just enjoy having the game.

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