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Leagues: EPL

NBC’s ‘Championship Sunday’ is a misnomer


If you speak with someone from the UK that’s older than 35, you may hear them rarely utter the phrase “Chelsea won the Championship” or something similar to “I remember when Blackburn Rovers won the Championship” before they catch themselves and realize the error of their ways. For modern day soccer fans, it’s slightly confusing considering that the Football League renamed the second division of English soccer the Championship in 2004.

For the second year in a row, NBC has decided to market its Premier League season finale as “Championship Sunday.” When NBC Sports debuted the name for the final day of last season, there was at least a small chance that Liverpool could have won the title from Manchester City if the Citizens failed to beat West Ham United and Liverpool would beat Newcastle. As it turned out, by the 39th minute of action at the Etihad, the race for the league title was a damp squid when Samir Nasri put City in the lead before finishing the game 2-0 winners.

The reality is that NBC probably thinks ‘Championship Sunday’ is a good name to market the final day of the season to mainstream sports fans who encounter the games across networks such as USA, CNBC, SyFy, E!, Bravo and other channels. ‘Championship Sunday’ has a nice ring to it. It’s easy to remember even if the title is a quite peculiar for soccer fans.

At the other end of the spectrum, you could argue that the name ‘Championship Sunday’ is more to do with the fight to avoid being relegated. But by the time Championship Sunday aired last year, we already knew that Cardiff, Fulham and Norwich were relegated.

The same applies to today. We already know the relegation race is done and dusted except for the miraculous chance that Hull City can beat Manchester United and hope that Newcastle drops points against West Ham. But FOX’s choice of the Survival Sunday theme for its final day of the 2012 Premier League season was, in my opinion, a better name.

While the ratings for today’s matches may do well, the reality is that only two of the games really matter (the aforementioned Hull-United and Newcastle-West Ham games). The battle for Europa League between Liverpool, Spurs and Southampton only matter to fans of those clubs. And even then, some of the fans of those clubs don’t care either except for bragging rights of who finished above whom.

The whole concept of a ‘Championship Sunday’ or ‘Survival Sunday’ theme (or whatever future rights holders want to call it) is a bit silly in my opinion because it’s so rare that the final day of the season culminates in a lot of excitement. It’s almost as if the TV broadcasters are thinking that the end to the 2011/12 season is the norm (the day when the league title, Champions League qualification places and relegation were all decided on the final day).

Instead of the dead rubber of a Championship Sunday, it’d be better if games were shown simultaneously across all 10 networks on days when all of the games had bigger consequences — such as Boxing Day or New Year’s Day. That may require more cooperation from the TV networks involved due to the programming that normally airs on those days, but if NBC could pull it off, it’d be more meaningful and enjoyable than what we’re prepared to see on the final day of the season when everything is almost always already over.

Don’t get me wrong. I will be watching Championship Sunday with one TV set showing Hull City against Manchester United and a laptop showing Crystal Palace against Swansea. But for the sake of entertainment, let’s hope that Hull City can put on a good showing and make this day at least a little more exciting than I believe it’ll be. Give us hope, Hull Tigers. Just for 90 minutes.


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