Hey now, you’re an all-star

As her majesty queen Elizabeth lies in state, hundreds of thousands of folks from all over Great Britain are queuing in London to get a glimpse of the coffin and say their fond farewells. Reports this morning (Thursday) have the line at over 3.5 miles long, with some folks waiting 30 hours or more. Which, if my memory still serves me, was about how long it took to use the restrooms at Highbury at half-time.

As for today’s previously scheduled football match between Arsenal and PSV Eindhoven, the decision to cancel the match was incredibly sensible and showed more foresight than I normally expect from the football association and other authorities. Police in London are stretched to the max as they manage the throng of mourners who have flocked to the capital. There is even a well developed queuing system with wristbands which allows mourners (again, who are waiting 30 hours!) to jump out of the line to use the bathrooms and grab some food. Some are complaining that authorities could have used a ticketing system and allowed people to come in much smaller batches but that seems unreasonable: how could anyone have known that the 96 year old queen would eventually die and that there would need to be some sort of management for the event?

Even though it will eventually mean more congestion in the fixtures list, I can see why today’s Europa League game was postponed. I still disagree with the decision to cancel last week’s fixtures and especially with the decision to cancel all football entirely up and down the football pyramid. And further disagree with the authorities who are trying to prosecute two “despicable” teams who dared to play football in defiance of authorities. But, it’s done. Football paid its respects and now we must move on.

I know that there will be many who bristle at my tone (the fact I made so called “jokes”) and opinion. And for those of you who are angry right now I want to say “I understand.” I’m not really being any more disrespectful than many of the folks I’ve heard on the national podcasts that I follow, almost all of which are British journalists. But what I get is that I’m an American, and as such anything I say is going to be seen as an “alien” assault on British traditions. This is much like an Arsenal supporter criticizing a player or the manager who will then turn and bare fangs when a Leeds supporter says the exact same thing. Me being jokey is like Todd Boehly saying “y’all should do an all-star game”. It’s very difficult for the average English person to hear that and not reflexively say “shut up you yank!”

Again, that’s fair. The Boehly proposal has some extremely cringey elements (North v. South, for example) but the fundamental idea is actually not horrible. I don’t watch all-star games and I’m not a huge fan of the week long break it gives to baseball and basketball. I am also firmly against adding more fixtures on the backs of these players. But I do know that a lot of other people really like these all-star games and I know that the players have a lot of fun in the all-star games (it’s seen as a mid-season break) and that getting elected to play in an all-star game is kind of a big deal for the players, fans, and clubs. I also did and still do often tune in for some of the other festivities around the all-star game, such as the dunk contest and the home-run derby. You’re going to laugh but Goalie Wars is actually fun and NextGen brought it back this year after it was canceled many years ago.

If you’re going to do an All-Star game, though, it will take a lot of thought and planning. I’ve seen suggestions that might work better such as UEFA v. everyone else or something like that. The point is that yes, “North v. South” was incredibly cringey, but overall the idea of getting the best players together for a one-off game which is light-hearted, seen as a mid-season break, which has some carnival-like aspects, and is used to fund the football pyramid isn’t really all that stupid so long as it doesn’t add more fixtures. And you don’t have to trust me, many of the journalists that I love in England have said something similar. But of course, I’m an American and we are “the people who tried to bring in the Super League” (which is an outright lie) so I’m sure I will be told to “stick to gridiron football” as has been the case for the 14 years I’ve been writing this blog.

Anyway, rest in peace Elizabeth II Regina. I’ll admit it’s a bit heartwarming to see so many people earnestly queuing and suffering to see the queen’s coffin, even if I also see the humor in how it all plays out.

The bottom line is that everyone really needs to relax. There’s plenty in this world to get legitimately angry about. If you’d like I can compose a list.



  1. People and entities should always be open to good ideas. My appeal for various sports is partly because they are unique. Trying to make them similar might hurt that distinct identity.
    When it comes to All Stars debate, I cringe even for being involved in it. The question I ask is what problem will they be trying to solve? Premier League is the most popular sport in the world. Its stars are the most popular sportspersons in the world. Premier League makes the most money.
    For mainstream US sports, this All Stars thing has been failing. NFL pro bowl is a joke. NBA all stars has been altered numerous times to try to gin up interest and competitiveness. MLB, not a fan.
    Finally any tinkering of the league that leads to more games, to an already congested schedule should be dead on arrival. These billionaires will commodify players and squeeze every cent from them. Almost all their ideas are about their bottom line and how to enhance it, it is rarely about player or sport or fans welfare.

  2. Firstly, sorry for the fall Tim, I wasn’t aware, but it’s great that you’re recovering well.

    Next, I wanted to pitch an idea (got it from a manga called Giant Killing) for a mid-season break match: go full entertainment mode and have a mascots v mascots match where the mascot of each team makes up the outfield players and we get the ‘best’ foreign GK and ‘best’ local GK and let them have an entertaining match with the mascots trying to play ball.

    I want to see Gunnersaurus dribbling past a bunch of mascots and score a hattrick against Ederson, and people demand to know why Mikel didn’t sign Gunnersaurus up when we had only Lacazette last January.

    It would be glorious.

  3. In ultimate frisbee we have something called a “beer point.” Basically at the end of a tournament when everyone is gassed we crack some brews and play a lighthearted few points. The only rule is you have to have a beer in one hand and you cant run fast enough to spill it.

    If there is ever an all star game in the PL, I propose something similar. The players involved shouldn’t have to put their bodies at risk. They should get to saunter around with an adult beverage in hand (even Saka. This is Europe! Silly Americans and their bans against fun) and just do their best ridiculous And-1 mixtape tour style ball tricks at a walking speed. The opposition should be a team of mascots, as Nugget so sagely suggests, replete with Benny Hill style cantrips, but with the added wrinkle that the mascots are allowed, nay, encouraged to stage elaborate on field skits borrowed from the playbook of that Icelandic team that had the best goal celebrations I’ve ever seen on YouTube.

    I also want a halftime show featuring Zinchenko with a 10 minute rap diss against Putin in Ukrainian with guest appearances from past Eurovision Song Contest winners, and Will Farrell (because all star games are still American no matter where they are played) capped by a live peformance of “YAYA DINGDONG.” It would be probably the greatest show on earth. You’re welcome, world. You’re welcome.

  4. I’m a dual national (a Lanky?) and maybe that makes me more prone to seeing two sides to every argument, but I can’t help but bristle at the All-Star Game idea. The passing of HRH ERII has once again shone a light on the cultural divide between the UK and her erstwhile Colony and I have to say it comes as something of a relief to me to be reminded that this still exists. The increase of of billionaire US owners may help to keep the Premiership at the top of world football for entertainment but from a personal standpoint it’s the cultural connection I feel towards footie (and the country that raised me) that keeps me tuning in on a Saturday morning (8am Kickoff in Colorado). With all the changes that have taken place in the game since my Highbury days, another attempt to “Americanize” it further undermines the very differences that make it so appealing to me. Vive les differences, I say.

    In case you haven’t seen enough regal excess over the last few days, Tim, take a look at this article from the BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-62918836. Your eyes will roll…

    Heal well!

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