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The Greatest Story in Sporting History

Jasper Yang, Contributor

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After an astonishing 2015-16 campaign, Leicester City Football Club have been crowned champions of the Barclays Premier league,  and so completing the final chapter to the greatest underdog story in sporting history.
By all aspects, the Leicester City story has been miraculous. Here’s a look at the many ways in which they exceeded expectations.
By the Odds

Nothing in American professional sports is possibly comparable to this feat. At the beginning of the season, Leicester City was 5,000-1 to win the Premier League title. To put that into perspective, 16 seed Holy Cross was 250-1 to win the NCAA Tournament according to CBS Sports. This year, Paddy Power considered Elvis Presley more likely to be found alive and well (at 2,000-1) than they did Leicester was to win the title. In fact, the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” Olympic Hockey team, what most Americans consider to be the greatest upset story in sporting history, is a better comparison. The Leicester story makes that seem like nothing.

Leicester winning title
Courtesy of Telegraph UK
Taking Down the Giants
In American sports, the dominant teams change almost annually, with last place teams constantly turning into first place teams. In fact, it is considered a rarely-seen accomplishment for a team to repeat as league champions. This is largely due to rules like cap restrictions, playoffs, and first-year player drafts that ensure a fair playing field and give a chance for even the least wealthy teams to “rebuild” and find success. In contrast, England’s Barclays Premier League has been historically very top heavy. In the league’s entire history, only five teams had ever won the title.  According to PremierLeague.com, the top four places in the final table have consisted of the same five teams in nine of the past ten seasons. Over time, fans have become accustomed to the same teams winning every year, and the odds-makers have clearly also adapted. 2016 marked the first time in its storied history that the top heaviness of the Premier League has been disrupted, and this has made the fairy-tale story of a traditional bottom-of-the-table finisher, Leicester City, all the more astonishing.
Money?
 
Unsurprisingly, the traditional giants of the Barclays Premier League have always been the teams with the most money. Unlike most American sports, there are very few financial restrictions and salary caps that give the poorer teams a chance to succeed. With oil company moguls pouring hundred of millions of dollars into enhancing their teams’ roster, it is no surprise that the best players are swept up by the same few teams each year. In addition to this, there is no first-year player draft in English football that allows for the weaker teams to acquire some talent. In the soccer world, money has always meant success, but Leicester City has proven that desire and passion can triumph over anything else.
According to EuroSport.com, Manchester City, a traditional giant and former title-winner, had eight players in their starting lineup that individually cost more than the entire Leicester team combined. According to Goal.com, PFA Player of the Year, Riyad Mahrez, cost Leicester City £400,000, 0.81% of what Manchester City bench player cost (£49,000,000). Whether the scouts at Leicester have superhuman powers or not, there is no doubt that they outsmarted all of their colleagues worldwide and proved that winning is not always just about the money.
The Future
 
After a bleak past, the future of Leicester City Football Club looks bright. Next year, they will enter the season as UEFA Champions League participants and with much higher expectations. Regardless of what happens, the story of the miraculous 2015-16 season will never be forgotten.
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The Greatest Story in Sporting History