The three hosts of this growing fantasy soccer podcast whose blog you are currently reading are American. We cannot help but approach the sport of soccer (football) as Americans. If you listen to our podcast, you know that we use the differing American and British terms interchangeably to appeal to all audiences.
For example, we say soccer, but you know we mean – and sometimes say – football. It can be hard to keep straight and always get right. Field or pitch? Game or match or fixture? Standings or table? Sideline or touchline? Goalie or goalkeeper? We try to be as respectful of football’s place in English culture as much as we know how (except during the incomplete, unofficial club history segments on our show), and we seek to get it right every time.
We would like to think that, as respectful Americans, we can also bring a unique perspective to the English game. Sometimes, a fresh set of eyes on a problem can help everybody. This post will attempt to do that in one very specific area: Premier League injuries.
Premier League vs. National Football League (NFL)
In addition to fantasy soccer, your humble podcast hosts play fantasy (NFL) football, alongside millions of other American NFL fans. While exact stats can be hard to find, some reports indicate that upwards of 75 million people play fantasy (NFL) football each year. It’s not much of a stretch to say that fantasy football is the most popular form of fantasy sports in the world.
Fantasy soccer, though, is on the rise. As the sport grows in the United States, fantasy soccer grows. The existence of Togga demonstrates this. It is why we decided to start a fantasy soccer podcast in early 2016.
The NFL knows that its popularity, in large part, is due to the high number of people playing fantasy football each season. As the league evolves from year to year, it is careful to make sure that it does not do anything to damage the link between the real games and the fantasy games.
One example of this is the NFL’s strict reporting protocol for injuries. If a player is hurt leading up to the next game, the team is required to report it. Surprise injuries are not allowed. Teams are even required to use specific terms when they report their player injuries: probable, doubtful, out, and so on. This allows teams to appropriately game plan for their next opponents, even though some teams still try to game the system (hello, New England!).
Surprise FPL Injuries
How many times this season have you been burned by a surprise injury to one of your FPL starters? Roberto Firmino, Tom Heaton, and Eden Hazard are just a few examples that immediately come to mind from the current year. Hazard, in fact, had an injury this past week that was not announced until one hour before Chelsea’s kickoff versus Stoke. By that time, there was nothing you could do if you had him in your fantasy lineup.
The only way we are guaranteed to hear about an injury to a Premier League player is if he gets hurt on the pitch. Then the media know to ask the manager about it during the week. Even then, the manager is not required to be honest. Often, they aren’t.
Injury Solution Needed
It seems like every week Brian is shouting at Dave and I (Scott) about an injury that was not announced until after the starting lineups have been publicized. What might be a coy tactical advantage in real life is a very real problem for fantasy soccer.
We are respectful of the Premier League, the EFL, the FA, and any other acronym or title you want to throw in there. We would never recommend something that would damage the sanctity of the game and/or league. In that way, you could say that we are better than even Richard Scudamore (even we know the 39th game was a dumb idea).
But this injury problem has to be resolved. The Premier League’s popularity is growing. Increased access to an American audience has seen a rise in American popularity, which contributes to the PL’s growth.
If you really want it to take off, though, you need to make it more interactive. Fantasy soccer is a known way to make that happen.
If you do not create a system for reporting real-life injuries, however, it will never happen.