Is it parity or mediocrity?
The National Football League boasts about the parity across the NFL as illustrated by the famous phrase – “On any given Sunday.”
Liga MX officials would like fans to believe the same thing and could point to the fact that until Atlas repeated last season, seven different clubs had been champions over the previous seven seasons.
So although parity is one way of looking at it, critics could argue that the results more accurately reflect mediocrity.
Let’s look at some data: Only 6 points separated the No. 3 seed – and eventual Liga MX champions, Atlas – and the 13th-placed team, León. The Zorros finished third in the table with 27 points – while the Esmeraldas missed the playoffs with 21 points. That’s just two wins from a 17-game season.
Four teams – seeds Nos. 4-7 – had the exact same amount of points – 26 – with each of the four (América, Puebla, Chivas and Monterrey) posting a mere 7 wins out of 17 matches.
I tend to favor the “mediocrity” argument over “parity,” but with a caveat. Teams and players have little incentive to go at full motor all season because 12 of the 18 Liga MX teams make the playoffs.
A favored strategy is to go through the motions and remain in contention – and stay healthy – until the stretch run. At that point, teams try to focus, finish strong and gather momentum for the grueling postseason schedule (seven games in 21 days for a wildcard team to win; six games in 18 games for a Top 4 team to win).
That would suggest fans are not seeing top quality performances across the 153-game regular season schedule. Few would quibble with that statement, I believe.
A quickly forgotten scandal
In January, commentators on a Televisa soccer program criticized Club América for mocking the team’s failure to acquire star players during the winter transfer window as management had promised.
No big deal, right? Well, Televisa also owns América, so the fall-out was quick and significant. Two of the journalists – Enrique Bermúdez and “Paco” Villa – were forced to apologize on social media. Both work on Televisa game broadcasts, and their statements were practically identical.
There was an immediate outcry with other journalists and publications accusing Televisa of censorship. But the issue quickly faded into the background, perhaps demonstrating the power of the media giant.
Then earlier this month, it happened once more, but this time it failed to capture the public’s attention since it happened during the preseason. Again, the subject was América’s failure to sign new talent during the transfer window despite boasts that the Aguilas would go big this summer.
The incident occurred before “Los AzulCremas” acquired El Tri defender Néstor Araujo and two-time Liga MX scoring champion Jonathan Rodríguez while the team was in Cancún for a preseason camp.
A video accusing América of bursting fans’ illusions by failing to sign any new players was televised during a Televisa cable program – “República Deportiva” – broadcast exclusively in the United States. A few days later, the video of the program was removed from the show’s website.
América fans soon responded by criticizing Televisa and América officials for trying to whitewash the truth about management’s missteps. But since the “censorship” occurred in the United States and with little fanfare (i.e., no manufactured apologies), the incident received very little notice in Mexico.