KOKOMO – American conservatives frequently like to make fun of and/or bash Europeans for the whacky socialist programs permeating virtually all elements of their daily lives. As good jingoistic patriots, we laud the American exceptionalism that has built an economic colossus, created incredible standards of living and provide us with enough spare change to basically meddle wherever our hearts desire.

However, the proud and economically wise Americans harbor a socialist cancer that has been allowed to entrench itself over time. The men, yes they are all men, practicing this heinous economic socialism are virtually all extremely skilled in the knockdown-and-drag-out business world. They won their vast fortunes by playing the capitalistic game to the maximum. They are economic victors in our society.

When these scions of capitalism get together over cocktails at their frequent meetings, do you think that the good old boys talk about making America great again through competition? No, these men are looking for ways to make sure that they win no matter how well their business performs. These titans of business are not mere mortals. They own professional sports franchises.

One might expect the socialist countries of Europe to practice a socialist philosophy from top to bottom and in the United States for a competitive fervor to permeate every molecule of our existence.  You are terribly wrong if you feel that way. Nothing is further from the truth when it comes to professional sports.

Just for giggles, let’s take a comparative look at the economic differences between football in England and baseball in the United States. Note:  Most uninformed American sports fans refer to that kind of football as soccer.

England has eight levels of professional soccer leagues.  The Premier League (20 teams), the Championship (24 teams), English Football League One (24 teams), English Football League Two (24 teams), The National League (24 teams), The National League North and South (Each has 22 teams), Four level seven leagues with 22 teams each and seven level eight leagues with 20 teams each.

Confused?  

Trust me, it will get more confusing as I tell you more.

Now in the good old USA we have Major League Baseball with 30 teams.  Triple A professional baseball has 30 teams. There are 30 Double A professional baseball teams. The Single A Advanced League has 30 teams. The Single A League fields 30 teams. The Class A Short Season League has 22 teams and several other lower level leagues comprised of over 100 teams compete at varying skill sets.

Each English football team from the lowest level team to the highest level team strives to eventually make it to the top league, the Premier League, and win its championship while making a profit for the team’s owners.

Each American professional baseball team tries to make a profit while developing talent for a Major League team through a contractual relationship.

Thus, Biggleswade United (real name), playing in the lowest level league, can aspire to one day win the Premier League title and all of the cash that comes with it. Unfortunately, the Indianapolis Indians, no matter how successful they are, will never win the World Series.  

The English system is as intriguing as it is confusing. The system revolves around an economically bone- crushing system of promotions and relegations.  Simple and simply brutal.

Each year, the bottom three performing teams in the Premier League are relegated to the Championship and the top three performing Championship teams are promoted to the Premier League. The bottom three performing teams in the Championship are relegated to English Football League One and the bottom three teams in English Football League One are relegated to English Football League Two, etcetera, etcetera. As Frank Sinatra might sing it, “You’re riding high in April, shot down in May.”

Some of the lower level leagues will automatically promote two top teams and then play a tourney among the next four to determine the third team to be promoted. Now, talk about sudden death shootouts!

Imagine a year when the New York Yankees are relegated to AAA and the Indianapolis Indians are moved to the Big Leagues. Wow! Bad play is punished.  Bad management is punished. Fans can vote with their wallets. In English football, good play is rewarded. Good management is rewarded.  Fans of winning football are rewarded.

Let’s contrast the English system with Major League Baseball. The 2018 Baltimore Orioles won 47 games and lost 115. They will be back to play in the MLB in 2019. Baltimore fans will still pay top dollar for seats.  The team gets the number one draft pick. Hot dogs will still cost an arm and a leg.  Players will still have the fat contracts and the team owners’ net worth will continue to rise. The 2018 top performing Triple A Memphis Redbirds won 83 games and lost 57.  

Next season they will still be playing in Triple A baseball. Fans can expect cheap seats, bobble heads, buy- one-get one sacks of peanuts and low-paid players trying as hard as they can. The team owner will have to be on the top of his game next season to make a profit.

In American business, relegation or failure is a fact of life. K-Mart is relegated to bankruptcy. Sears acquires K-Mart. Sears is relegated to bankruptcy. Businesses come and go like leaves on a maple tree. Yet, in this great bastion of free enterprise and competition, professional baseball is a peculiar entity. There is no relegation for failure. Everyone who is lucky enough to own a Major League Baseball franchise makes a killing, win or lose.

Rarely do I point to Europe and say that we should emulate them.  That said, deep in the bowels of the socialist states that comprise the European Union shines a bright light for the Americans to follow. It’s brutal and painful capitalism played out on the pitch. Maybe that’s why football/soccer is the number one sport in the world. 

Dunn is the former chairman of the Howard County Republican Party.