If you’ve ever wondered about the concept of promotion and relegation between divisions or tiers in English (and European) football (soccer), this Grantland article captures the drama pretty well, showing what’s at stake and why it means so much to the clubs and the fans, and to the overall competitiveness of the league (you’ll always have crappy teams, but at least they change every year).
To see another example of why football is the world’s sport (despite what many Americans think), Soccernet’s got an article about Sierra Leone’s national team. Currently making waves in qualifying rounds for the African Nations Cup (they lead their group), Sierra Leone is breaking out from the pits of international football, having not played in the African Nations Cup since 1996 and having been ranked as low as 172 worldwide. But of course, football isn’t what Sierra Leone’s well known for, instead it was the images of people with their arms or legs missing that made the country synonymous with African war brutality. The country endured a savage period in the late 90s and early 2000s of civil war in which diamonds played a major role. Yes, blood diamonds, the term made famous by Kanye West’s song and the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, fueled the civil war as rebel warlords captured diamond-producing fields and sold the diamonds to buy weapons and supplies. Anyways, what this article shows is that no matter where in the world, football has meaning for many. The country itself still occupies the lower rungs of the UN’s Human Development Index but things seem to be slowly improving (just the fact that there’s been no major conflict since the end of civil war in 2002 is a huge plus!). Let’s hope the Leone Stars do make it to the Cup next year and give their country’s beleaguered people something reason to be proud of their country again.