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CBS and FOX start calling Nations League a ‘major trophy’ and act like no one will notice

The UEFA and CONCACAF Nations League finals both took place Sunday, and records fell, legends became immortal and history was written as the world came to a standstill to watch the heroics of goalkeeper Unai Simón and a blonded Gio Reyna.

At least that's what the competitions respective TV broadcasters, FOX Sports and CBS Sports Network, would have us believe.

"What's at stake here?!" was the question fired off almost incessantly by Jenny Taft and Kate Abdo in the studios before games, like struggling philosophers gripped by their own internal crises over what's actually of value in a world gone mad with evaluations.

When you pay the kind of money both companies did to secure multi-year rights for these tournaments, then you understand all the hyperbole and the need for all this to mean a lot more than it really does — these are, after all, simply the games that replaced the entirely meaningless friendlies. There's really nothing more to them than that.

Maybe things will change with time. I can't see UEFA's Nations League ever coming close to even sniffing the Euros, and the UNL trophy has already largely come to resemble the Carabao Cup — it means something if you win it, it's forgotten later that same day if you lose it.  

But the CONCACAF version has already almost effectively killed the Gold Cup. On the Richter scale, the upcoming Gold Cup — which starts in just five days — is registering a 0.0 in terms of hype. I just looked at Ticketmaster for the USMNT vs. Jamaica match at Soldier Field on Saturday and tickets certainly don't seem to be moving quickly (if at all). 

And how about the fact that FOX and CBS are both trying to slip "major international trophy" into their descriptions of the current Nations League and acting like no one will notice? 

First things first, isn't the ultimate litmus test of a "major trophy" on an egalitarian scale? Shouldn't we be able to compare and contrast all footballers around the world on a fair distribution of major trophies? For example, anyone can win the World Cup (a major trophy), and each confederation has its own major continental trophy (Copa América, AFCON, Euros, etc.), but the same doesn't hold true for the Nations League.

It only exists in UEFA and CONCACAF; there is no CONMEBOL, CAF or AFC Nations League, so we're already diving into the "this trophy comes with an asterisk" territory, and that's not where major trophies should reside. Otherwise we're left with that heinous moment in time when Ronaldo fanboys were holding Portugal's UNL triumph over the heads of Messi fanboys. 

But if we ("we" as in our collective CONCACAF minds) want to make the Nations League our major continental championship, then we need to collectively come out and say that while reclassifying the Gold Cup as something like MLS All-Stars vs. Liga MX All-Stars. I think this needs to happen as soon as possible or we're left with godawful stats like this one: 

How can we put Reyna on a pedestal for stats derived entirely from two Nations League finals when Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan never played in the Nations League? It makes no sense. 

And what about this stat? 

That's just hilarious.

It's also very off-putting to see a Spain team that was deservedly beaten by Morocco in the World Cup last-16 put side by side with the '08-'12 squad that redefined modern football.  

I'm actually really excited for meaningless friendlies again. Bring on the USMNT vs. Germany on Oct. 14 and then the ultimate "major trophy": a friendly against our eternal rivals Ghana in a continuation of the Special Relationship on Oct. 17.

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