North American Sports-Is it time to rethink the playoff formats?
In the NFL, a football team made the playoffs with a 7-9 record. In the NBA, three teams made the playoffs with a losing record. In the MLB, two teams finished with a 29-31 record and made the playoffs. The NHL expanded their playoff formats and no team with a losing record made the playoffs. Of the major sports leagues in the nation, the NHL allowed more teams then normal and still had no team with a losing record make the playoffs. Could it be that the NHL actually has a more balanced league top to bottom?
That’s not what this is about. The NBA has a total revenue of $8.3 billion, which is down 10% from last season, but the League had Portland Trailblazers, Orlando Magic and the Brooklyn Nets all combined for a record of 103 wins and 116 losses in the season. MLB saw revenue in 2019 of $10.7 billion, with the league projected to lose $1 billion dollars without having any fans in the stands. The league saw both Houston Astros and the Milwaukee Brewers finish with a record of 29-31. The NFL had a total revenue of roughly $16 billion in 2019, standing to lose roughly $4 billion in 2020. The league saw a division and final playoff spot decided in the finale of the regular season. The Washington Football Team, and yes that is what the team is being called currently, finished with a 7-9 record, while the Arizona Cardinals finished with an 8-8 record. The Miami Dolphins finished with a 10-6 record, both the best teams from each conference that didn’t make the playoffs.
Why are the leagues allowing teams that can’t truly be competitive, not the best teams, into the playoffs? The leagues need to re-evaluate a playoff format much into the light of the MLS. Eliminating divisions would allow the better teams to make the playoffs. Instead of division records becoming a tie breaker, conference records would make the playoffs a little bit tougher to get into. With Conferences instead of Divisions, the NFL would have Kyler Murray leading a highlight film offense that has drawn viewers to their games, not a football team with no name. That resolution would be the best for the NFL but it’s not the only one.
If conferences are also done away with, and the best 16 teams are into the playoffs, the Raiders, Dolphins and Cardinals would make the playoffs in the NFL. In the NBA Orlando would have missed the playoffs and Memphis would make the playoffs. If the leagues aren’t going to have fans in the stands, then it might be time for the leagues to consider the switch. Advertisers want their commercials to be seen on TV with games that fans want to see. Fans don’t want to watch a 7-9 team play against a team that is a super bowl contender.