That is not a title that can possibly be written. No purely American sports fan can possibly understand how ridiculous it is.
Listen. In the last 26 years of English soccer, up to this year, a grand total of FIVE teams have won the title. Let that sink in. It’s as if Notre Dame, Alabama, USC, Texas and Florida had won all the national titles since the BCS began. As if the Super Bowl was only won by Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Dallas, San Francisco, and New York since Clinton beat Bush. As if the World Series were the Yankees, Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals.
Oh, it’s more than that, though. In English soccer, if you aren’t Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, or Manchester City, you don’t win the title. You just don’t. It’s not only that you don’t win the title, because that’s a pipe dream, but that you don’t crack the top six, which is always populated by the four above plus a rotating group of Liverpool, Tottenham, Everton, and some other big clubs. Leicester City? You must be joking.
Except that today they won the league. No team of their size has ever finished in the top six. Last year in mid-April they were cast-iron locks to be sent down to a lower league.
I can’t relate this to Americans. There isn’t any upset even close to this. Butler beating Duke for the NCAA title (which they didn’t quite do)? No. Butler were 10-1 underdogs. Buster Douglas knocking out Mike Tyson? 80-1. The USA beating Russia for the gold medal, arguably the biggest upset in the history of sports? 1000-1.
Leicester City were 5000-1 underdogs. 5000-1 are the odds you can get in Vegas that Sasquatch will be found to be real. FIVE THOUSAND to one. Those are the odds that, say, you could put the North Carolina Tar Heels in the NBA and they would win the title. That the AA River City Mudcats would win the World Series. That Amy Poehler could actually become President of the United States. That you could personally run the Kentucky Derby and finish in the money.
Five thousand to one is what you do with a bet you can’t really value at all, because it CANNOT HAPPEN.
Your odds of having Simon and Schuster take your manuscript and make it into the Hunger Games are SIGNIFICANTLY better than that.
All those movies about how hard work and discipline and focus can accomplish anything? They’re true. They really are. Manchester United spent more on ONE PLAYER this season than Leicester spent on their entire starting eleven. The Foxes (that’s Leicester) spent $48 million pounds on their whole roster. That ranks SEVENTEENTH in the league of twenty. Chelsea spent 215.6 million (and will finish tenth).
I can’t even process this. The impossibility of this marvelous thing is off the scale.
Why would I do a whole post about this? Because it’s a validation of the little guy. It’s proof–not one-game, any-given-Sunday give-it-a-shot stuff, but 40-game eight-month proof–that a plucky band of hardworking nobodies can, actually, pull off a miracle and win what is reserved for the bluebloods.
Because it leaves me without an excuse. The next time I start saying, “well, I’ll try, but it can’t really work,” my son Nicholas will say, “Leicester City”, and I’ll shrug and say, “okay. Fair point.” Nothing like this can happen.
But it just did.