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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Women’s Basketball falls to Tufts, bounces back vs. Emmanuel

Judges avenge NCAA tourney loss with 86-82 win

Published: November 30, 2007
Section: Sports

When one thinks of football in London’s Wembley Stadium, it is usually in the context of Manchester United playing Chelsea for the English Premier League title. However, a few weeks back, it was American football being displayed on the field at England’s largest stadium, as the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins slogged their way through a rainy contest. Though the game’s entertainment value was relatively low, due to lousy weather and probable jet lag, this was the first regular season NFL game ever played outside of the country (after a handful of preseason games), and the London fans came out in droves to see what we Americans get so excited about every Sunday.

The NFL wasn’t the only one getting in on the London scene this year, however. The NHL kicked off its regular season with two games between the Los Angeles Kings and the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks. The two teams split the series, and while the wisdom of choosing two California teams instead of a more well known and tradition-laden club like the Detroit Red Wings or the Toronto Maple Leafs can be debated, the move was still a brilliant way to ignite interest in a league that is struggling to get noticed.

The NBA, as well, played preseason games in London, with the Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, Memphis Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors participating.

Of course, all this transatlantic travel has brought forward notions in the sporting world that, someday, there might be a league that incorporates teams from both the European and the North American continents. While not at all feasible now, due to travel expense, this is an interesting concept. More interesting, however, is the idea of a transatlantic tournament, modeled on Europe’s UEFA Cup, that would pit the best club teams from multiple countries against each other. This is the time to start thinking about this idea, as Europe seems to be welcoming the American teams, and more and more European players are coming to join American leagues

While not possible in American football, due to the lack of popularity and viable leagues elsewhere, I feel that this concept of an international club tournament could work really well in basketball and hockey. Imagine the top two teams from the NHL (or the top American team and the most successful Canadian side) hitting the ice against the champions from the U.K., Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia’s Super League, and France. A title match, played in St. Petersburg, between Dynamo Moscow and the Ottawa Senators? How about sending the Anaheim Ducks into Switzerland to tangle with SC Bern? Of course, there would be difficulties with rules (as the ice surfaces are different sizes and icing is not called in the same way, to name a couple), but these are minor and could be ironed out.

The same idea would work with basketball. Imagine the Greek or Spanish champion being pitted against the Pistons or the Spurs; then we could really determine who the world champion is.

This process would improve immensely on the current international sports system of the World Championships and the Olympics, which involves only international sides, representing their countries, cobbled together from the stars who are willing to go. Why should we send conglomerates of superstars that have never played together and just happen to be of the same nationality, when we could send teams that have fought through a regular season and a playoff, have lived on the road together, gelled as a unit, and earned the right to play for a world title? Why send the Dream Team, when the Spurs were the best basketball team in America, in reality? Why send the best American-born players to an ice hockey tournament, when Anaheim has already proven to be the best American team?

There would be some issues to deal with before this scenario could take place. NBA and NHL seasons are too long as it is, and a proposition that cuts into an already short off-season and sends players across an ocean would probably not be greeted with enthusiasm by the players associations. Also, international players who come to the American pro leagues could conceivably play against teams from their home nations, denying their country some glory.

But again, these difficulties could be dealt with, and if the NBA and NHL seasons were shortened in the process, that would be fantastic. There is really no reason, besides logistics, that such a competition would not work, and the benefit, once and for all crowning a world champion, could make for some very interesting and entertaining games.