I’m going to let you in on a little secret, I’m an avid watcher of The Bachelor and Bachelorette. The premise that someone can find love by having 20 boyfriends or girlfriends at once and get engaged after spending a grand total of about 24 hours with someone, much of it at the same time as being on a date with a dozen other people, delights me to no end. From time to time, you’ll be subject to it here, I’d like to say I’m sorry but I’m not - throw a Bachelorette watch party next Monday you’ll see what I mean. Plus, the show is a lot like soccer, there are twists, comebacks, fake fights, and the referee is never there when you need them.
The Bachelor even has its own version of second rate international tournaments: off year Gold Cups have B teams, the Bachelor has Bachelor in Paradise. Both feature people you’ve never heard of doing things that should get them banished from society for a prolonged period of time. You really shouldn’t watch it but you do anyway and can’t explain why.
Many other things in the show also remind me of soccer and one of them is transfer season. Each begins with finely quaffed potential suitors vying for the affection that only one party can give. They overstate their qualifications - self-employed for example means unemployed, aspiring drummer means unemployed, tech consultant means working at the Verizon store, singer/songwriter means bartender who has a guitar, and chiropractor means med school drop out. All of the jobs that sound fake are basically the Bachelor equivalent of “Former Chelsea Man” or “Former Arsenal Man” which are also fake jobs and really mean that a scout was wrong about a player costing the team millions of dollar.
Both transfers and the Bachelorette can turn on a dime and both have editing to thank for that. One relationship can look like it is going strong when all the sudden, the narrative switches and someone is going home in the lonely limo with no rose. This can all be despite tabloid reports to the contrary and the fact that perfect matches are rejected in favor of those with intense physicality, superficial displays of connection, and obvious signs of personality disorders.
Adding to the excitement are the parents and other family members who pop up occasionally and ruin everything. One of the parents this year looks like he does Barney the Dinosaur cosplay and is going to wreck everything for his son and Rachel, maybe he’s related to Mix Diskerud.
MLS is particularly similar to the Bachelor though. Other leagues have no say in whether a player joins a league or what team they go to. MLS is of course different. In another life, Don Garber could have been a producer on the Bachelor, making rules, exceptions to rules, creating fiat money, determining player allocation by coin flip, and generally rigging things so that the season turns out in a manner that pleases him seem like talents he could apply to reality TV.
Like all truly great love stories and marriages that last a lifetime, the Bachelor determines a soulmate based on a competition where someone wins at the end. Much like transfers, nothing can be trusted until you see with your own eyes the finale. In the case of soccer, it is a player donning the kit of their new team, on the Bachelor it is watching someone who is there for the right reasons put a Neil Lane(TM) diamond ring on the finger of their beloved.
Finally, nobody who wants to get really really rich on the Bachelorette or in soccer is there for the right reasons. Those who want wealth don’t stay with one club in the same way that those who want to round up sponsors on Instagram aren’t on TV dating the same person as 20 other people to find a partner in life. The main difference being that soccer players who want to get insanely rich just don’t pay their taxes in Spain and their agents get kickbacks by negotiating deals via third parties.
This season has been low on drama - though the beef between the singer/songwriter who was oblivious to the racist sounding garbage he was talking and the professional wrestler had its moments - but it’s winding down much as the transfer window does for most teams: having watched the best options slip through their fingers for pointless and arbitrary reasons, the field narrows to three or four with the obvious best choice destined to be passed over just to find bigger and better things next season.