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Soccer vs. The Super League

First, we react to the big news out of European soccer that 12 clubs intended to form a Super League in which they would get to play each other, all the time, every year, without needing to do anything onerous like qualify for the Champions League. We talk about the blowback from fans and from soccer’s organizing bodies, and where the idea to do this had been coming from. (A lot of American owners, perhaps?) We recorded the show on Tuesday morning before teams began announcing their intention to withdraw from the venture, but even then, without key German clubs and Paris Saint-Germain sewn up in the deal, the Super League appeared to be on shaky ground.

Next, we look at the NBA as it heads into the home stretch of the regular season. Although not everybody in the league is hurt right now, the injury rate is comparatively higher among major stars, and that’s making all the difference — as is the compressed schedule forcing starters to take on more wear and tear than anyone in the league would like. A returned Joel Embiid is demonstrating exactly what kind of difference he can make for the Sixers, although the Hot Takedown team thinks he would need to go thermonuclear in order to catch Nikola Jokić in the MVP race. The team that’s on a hot streak but doesn’t feel dangerous yet is, of course, the Knicks. But maybe if Zion Williamson really wants to head to New York, that could change. 

Finally, in the Rabbit Hole, Neil guides us through changes he and FiveThirtyEight contributor Justin Moore made to our Formula One Elo ratings, including accounting for driver reliability in finishing races and the effect teams have on any technical edge for the drivers. In fact, that technological boost matters more in the current era than driver skill. But one thing that hasn’t changed is that F1 remains one of sports’ great soap operas, with demanding drivers beefing over slights both real and perceived.   

What we’re looking at this week: 

Sarah Shachat is Hot Takedown’s producer.

Sara Ziegler is the former sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Neil Paine was the acting sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Geoff Foster is the former sports editor of FiveThirtyEight.