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Over the past few days I’ve seen a lot of confusion about the geography and municipal structure of Ferguson and St. Louis, so I just want to offer a quick rundown of the region and make some distinctions that often elude not only national media but frankly many St. Louis residents as well. This isn’t just me being pedantic; if you want a full understanding of the insanity going on in Ferguson this week, you need to understand the deep roots of St. Louis’ regional dysfunction.

The St. Louis metro area has a strange, flukish governmental framework that dates back to 1876, when St. Louis City made the monumentally shortsighted decision to separate itself from surrounding St. Louis County. When the city needed to expand westward in the ensuing decades, it had nowhere to go, and gradually the region’s political and economic center of gravity shifted to the County. Today, the City and the County cooperate on some regional bodies but municipal codes, public finances, and most services (police, fire, courts, public works) are divided along the City-County line.

But this is only half of the reason why “St. Louis”—i.e., the metro area—is so dysfunctional. The other is that St. Louis County is itself further balkanized into no less than 91 independent municipalities, 74 of which maintain their own municipal police departments—most of which, like Ferguson’s, are small and suffer from a lack of oversight. These 74 separate departments, plus the much larger St. Louis County Police Department, serve a relatively small suburban area that—even in other fragmented metro areas like Dallas-Ft. Worth—would (and should) be served by no more than three or four departments.

When you understand this insane fragmentation, and understand that the police response in Ferguson is being “coordinated” by St. Louis County Police in conjunction with dozens of other smaller independent municipal departments, tweets like these begin to make more sense:

Importantly, this does not downplay the very real racial component at play in the St. Louis County Police Department’s unbelievably heavy-handed response to the protests in Ferguson—in fact, the region’s racial tensions and its governmental fragmentation are inextricably linked to one another, since efforts at reunification or consolidation often run into opposition from white suburbs that want to remain separate from predominantly black municipalities like Ferguson.

Rioters rampage through Huntington Beach after surf competition … University Of Mississippi Students Riot Over Obama Victory … St. Patrick’s celebrations at UMass spark rioting and 70 arrests … St. Patrick’s Day riot ‘like a war zone,’ London, Ont. police chief says … 1,000 riot at University of Dayton on St. Patrick’s Day … Students Arrested After New York ‘Kegs and Eggs’ Riot … Ten thousand riot in downtown Denver after Super Bowl victory … Police in Riot Gear Arrest 37 People After Red Sox Sweep World SeriesPatriots fans riot after Super Bowl loss … UMass police arrest 15 after Red Sox World Series win Red Sox Win Incites Riots Across BostonDeath of Victoria SnelgroveDisco Demolition NightTen Cent Beer NightRichard Riot1993 Stanley Cup riot1994 Vancouver Stanley Cup riot … 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup riot3,000 at Michigan State riot over alcohol ban … 10,000 Fans Riot in Michigan … Michigan State Party Turns Into RiotRiot Police Hit East Lansing Streets Following MSU Win … Arrests expected in PSU riotPenn State riot: Students react to Joe Paterno firing … Fans riot on University Boulevard after Elite Eight loss … Iowa State University Students Riot On A Tuesday For No Apparent Reason … University of Delaware students rampage at riot party … Several police departments respond to riots at annual Kent State ‘College Fest’Power outage sets off Fraternity Row riot … Kentucky Students Riot After NCAA Championship Win … Kentucky erupts in rioting after NCAA loss … 19 arrested after University of Minnesota students riot for the second time in a week after Gophers lose hockey final … Police use tear gas to disperse crowd near Western Michigan University … 'Unruly' revelry after Maryland game leads to 28 arrests in College Park … Riots near U of O ‘like a war zone’ … CSU students and neighbors react to Saturday riot near campus … Police In Riot Gear End UW Party … 'Deltopia' Spring Break Party Morphs Into Riot In Santa Barbara

Riots like the one last night in North St. Louis County are a youth phenomenon, not a black one.

Well none of that has anything to do with the story and I suppose you think there isn’t any story anyway but it sort of moves along in time and anyway there is a lot of dope about high society in it and that is always interesting.

The NFL rules committee has relentlessly pushed to reward teams that take chances offensively, and the league has been rewarded with billions and billions of dollars in revenue. Soccer, on the other hand, has always fundamentally been about avoiding mistakes—better to pass back to the goalkeeper than risk anything, right?

But there’s a problem with the NFL’s plan, tacitly hinted at in a ferociously insightful piece by Aaron Gordon: It appears that scoring can backfire. Among a few criticisms, Gordon explains how higher scores have led to higher variability, and inevitably, more blowouts. The average point differential in 2013 (at the time of the article’s publishing) was 11.2 points. This doesn’t sound too bad until you see that nearly one-fourth of NFL games are decided by 17 points or more. Here, increased scoring created the exact opposite of an exciting product.

This might be what casual World Cup fans realized over the past month. The five most common soccer scores (1-0, 1-1, 2-1, 2-0, 0-0, respectively) make for some pretty exciting matches. It would seem then that it’s not goals or scoring that matters, it’s decisive goals and decisive scoring. Fans want to see scoring that matters, that affects the outcome, and soccer simply tends to have more of those.

From a great piece by Jordan Rogers at The Cauldron on scoring and excitement in soccer.

The pharaohs of Egypt built pyramids so magnificent that four thousand years later, some people—admittedly crazy people—wonder if they were built by aliens; some day, the question may be asked of the gleaming stadia that have begun to land regularly, like splendid and impervious flying saucers, amidst the busy, complex and unequal societies of the 21st century. Football may emerge from the people, but its stadiums are dropped on their heads from above. David Goldblatt writes that once, a person could pay as little as one reial and walk into the Maracanã to access the febrile crush of the geral, the standing area between the seats and the pitch. In the new Maracanã, renovated in several stages to comply with FIFA’s Procrustean rules of engagement, the cheapest seats reportedly go for ten times that price. As workers die, buses burn and fighting erupts in the neighbourhoods around these temples of development, Galeano’s vision of a people divided only by the teams they support seems remote indeed.

There are going to be a lot of navel-gazing essays written about the World Cup over the next few weeks, but this one by Supriya Nair might end up being one of the best.