For casual soccer fans, it may be difficult to fully understand the absurdity of Leicester City’s having a chance to clinch England’s Premier League title this weekend. To say it is an upset or a shock or a stunner seems wholly inadequate, particularly when one considers that those words are so often used to describe one-time results (the United States over the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympic hockey tournament, for example) as opposed to the feat of endurance that is required for a relative minnow like Leicester to dominate the sharks of English soccer for a nine-month season.
One way to view Leicester City’s unlikely title is through gambling odds. Before this season began, British bookmakers listed Leicester ”” pronounced Less-ter ”” as a 5,000-to-1 shot to emerge as the Premier League champion. By comparison, the so-called Miracle Mets of 1969 were a 100-to-1 choice, and Buster Douglas was just a 42-to-1 underdog when he upset Mike Tyson in 1990 to win the heavyweight championship.
Being 5,000 to 1 really put Leicester City more in line with the odds one might see in the novelty category often offered by British bookies ”” bets on things that are so outlandish and unlikely as to be unimaginable ”” but even there, Leicester City was a long shot. The odds that Simon Cowell, the acid-tongued producer of “American Idol,” would become the next British prime minister were only 500 to 1, for example….