05 December 2006

In Defense of using the "EPL"

Since I'm thinking about annoying habits of the English, I want to address the use of the abbreviation "EPL" in referring to the FA Premier League of England. If you read the European press, Tony?  Yes Control?  Tell me Tony, how do you talk about association football?  Well, Control, with my mouth I suppose?  Yes, Tony, but how specifically?specifically the UK Press, and their associated comment sites and message boards, you can see many examples of someone from, say, "St. Louis, MO" referring to the EPL and promptly having a slew of people from London, Swindon, et al yelling about "American ignorance" for not referring to England's top league as either the "Premiership", "FA Premier League", or the "Barclay's Premiership." Okay, they don't really insist on the last term, but the point remains that somehow referring to the top-flight English league as the EPL is verboten. It is silly and hypocritical for anyone in England to object to the use of EPL by a Yank.

Let's start with why it is silly. In the immediate islands in and around the UK, there are four different "Premier" organizations: the FA Premiership (England), the Scottish Premier League, the Premier Division of the Irish League, and the Irish Premier League (Northern Ireland). Admittedly, only the Scottish Premier League seems to have greater European prominence (Celtic not too shabby, eh?), but given the various genealogies of American citizens, it seems reasonable that we could trace our ancestry, and relatives, to supporters of any of these teams. EPL is a convenient shorthand for specifying which Premiership we're talking about, especially in Europe. Yes, there may be a slightly hidden confusion if you bring the African leagues into the equation. Egypt, Eritrea, and Ethopia all boast "Premier" leagues. But in common soccer fandom, you probably care about your domestic league, South America (maybe) and Europe). Within that context, which is the context of, I think, the vast majority of fans over here, EPL is a sensible abbreviation allowing one to specifically address what you're talking about. Given that at least 13 of the UEFA members use "Premier" in their name, and at least three of those are significant powers, it makes sense.

Now for the hypocrisy. The yanks get a bit of a rap, perhaps deservedly, for being overly American-exceptionalist, USA-centric, and a bit xenophobic for anything outside of the Community Anglais. This is a favored pastime in the various UK tabloids for the amateur sociologist/columnist. Yet the use of "EPL" speaks to a wider intentional view, opening its eyes to old and new Europe, moving away from an anglic-centric view to a more international view. Naturally, this passes right over the head of the anti-"EPL" zealots, who suddenly revert to their own English supremacist views. There is only one premiership, and it is the FA Premiership. There is only one United. There is only one top league in the world. Crikey!

Now, as far as I know, I personally have never been taken to task for using "EPL" and may never get any such flak. I use the term frequently, especially in the blogroll on the right. It is an appropriate term to use. And I'll stop using it when you pry it from my cold, dead, carpel-tunnel ridden fingers.

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At 05 December, 2006 13:11, Anonymous Dave Lifton said...

Given that nearly every good player and coach in the league is from another country, should we even bother with the "E" in the first place?

At 05 December, 2006 13:12, Blogger D said...

Now you're just poking the hornets' nest.

At 05 December, 2006 14:26, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just returned from a trip to England and somebody did point out they thought it was interesting I referred to their league as the EPL. I never really thought about it until you wrote this.

I think another question to ask is how did it become the EPL? Was there a Celtic and Arsenal fan working at FSC at the same time? Did the Celtic fan feel slighted when the EPL was the only league referred to as the Premier League? He likely filed a complaint with the HR department; thus, all staff had to undergo sensitivity training and come up with language to fairly represent all countries that refer to their league as the Premier league. Ultimately, could thisHence, the EPL abbreviation and phrase could have developed from political correctness.

At 06 December, 2006 05:54, Blogger Harry Hotspur said...

Greetings from 'Eng ger land'. I'm actually in Dublin as I write, but hey...

D asked why I wasn't crazy about 'EPL'.

D's article hits the nail on the head, it's a supremacist thing.

There are many other Premier leagues, but the English self pronounce theirs as THE Premier league.

Just as there are many streets called Oxford Street in the world, I would instinctively be irritated if anyone referred to the big one full of awful shops in London as English Oxford Street.

Add to that that 'we' are an island race, the seemingly last bastion against the dreaded and feared in equal measure EURO in Europe.... EPL sounds foreign to us.... A name we didn't give to it ourselves.

EPL? No thanks.

At 06 December, 2006 10:54, Anonymous Dave Lifton said...

Better on your blog than mine, D.

At 06 December, 2006 13:58, Anonymous DCUinCT said...

How about
"London's Oxford Street? or Oxford Street in London. As games and places get more international we need something to define them. I understand that there is a "Times Square" in London, but most of hte world wouldn't know about it, so you have use "London's Times Square." Maybe New Yorkers wouldn't want you to refer to New York's Time square, but I imagine the phase has been used a time or two in London.

At 07 December, 2006 13:16, Blogger The Gaffer said...

The whole "EPL" name is an interesting conversation.

I wrote a short piece about the acronym on my blog and included a few good examples.

I'm biased, but to me the "EPL" outside of the UK makes total sense because it differentiates it from the SPL and the other "Premier League" organizations out there.

The Gaffer

At 09 December, 2006 06:49, Blogger celtic1985 said...

"In the immediate islands in and around the UK, there are four different "Premier" organizations: the FA Premiership (England), the Scottish Premier League, the Premier Division of the Irish League, and the Irish Premier League (Northern Ireland)"

What about the Welsh Premiership, or haven't you heard of Wales?

And as a Welsh Celtic fan I call the FA Premiership the EPL all the time, if they've got a problem with it - who cares? They're English.

At 10 December, 2006 18:36, Blogger Harry Hotspur said...

"What about the Welsh Premiership, or haven't you heard of Wales?"

Yep, heard of it. I think you may be taking political correctness into a new sphere of er...

Does Drogba play in that league? Does Rooney? Does 'Bellamy' for that matter?

When ANY of them do, the prefix THE may be attached to the generic, 'premiership'.

C'mon guys, next you'll be telling me that Celtic are good enough to play their sectarian 11 aside out of their own country....


At 10 December, 2006 18:44, Blogger Harry Hotspur said...

I just got hit by a thought chaps....

When we've thrashed this baby out, what's with The 'World' Series and can anyone tell me what team England are playing first?

At 07 May, 2007 01:26, Anonymous sid said...

Harry Hotspur, This guy brings shame to the name of Harry Hotspur, he is despised in the UK and a blemish for all Good Spurs fans worldwide.

At 17 May, 2007 16:25, Blogger Harry Hotspur said...

Hahaha sid you've veen chucked off more spurs sites than anyone in Europe.

Why haven't you revealed to the good folk here about you 'also' supporting Fulham?



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