Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Where US Sports Fail: NBA, NHL Seasons

Previously on Where US Sports Fail.

I realize the only real goal in professional sports is for everyone to make money. However, I have been completely beaten down by the lack of excitement in the regular season. The NBA plays 82 games and the NHL plays 84 games. Except it doesn't really matter much because in each league more teams make the playoffs then stay home. The NBA and NHL each have 30 teams and 16 make the playoffs. Why should I as a fan watch the regular season. A common quote from the players mouths when the playoffs roll around is "the real season starts now." To a large degree they are right. It's like getting into a state school, its an accomplishment of sorts sure, but don't pat yourself on the back for getting into Florida State and avoiding Central Florida. The regular season because of the amount of teams in the postseason on nearly even ground. Home court advantage is important in a one game setting but in a 7 game series it only means something if you actually get to game 7.

The English Premier League works so well because the season is the playoffs. Just about every game matters. There are 20 teams in the Premiership. You play each team once home and away for a total of 38 matches. There are no divisions or conferences only a league table. Everyone is on even ground. There is no worry of imbalanced conferences. No worries over the West having teams with a winning record left out of the playoffs while the East has teams with losing records in the playoffs. In the EPL team at the top of the standings at year end are your champions. The top four are placed into the UEFA Champions League to determine the best team in Europe. The bottom three teams drop into the lower division. The league is fair and balanced because you play everyone and equal amount of time and teams at the bottom are not taking things lightly because they are fighting for the Premiership lives. Teams also recieve a payout based on their final standing so the team finishing 7th recieves a bigger payout then the team that finishes 8th. Players have incentive to play every game because it affects their paycheck. In the NHL and NBA not everygame matters and teams can tank it at the end of the year to get a high draft pick.

It is debatable whether the NBA and NHL have real rivalries that would actually be affected by eliminating some games and playing each team home and away. The fewer times you play a team each year the more the game matters. Without further ado, my proposal that will never happen because it could negatively affect the bottom line.

-Play 58 Games (play each team home and away) and eliminate the conferences
-12 Teams make the playoffs with the top 2 recieving byes.
-Adjust revenue sharing to punish bottom feeders
-5 Game series first round and 7 games the rest of the way but consider adjusting home court advantage to 5 home and 2 away

-Play 58 games and eliminate the conferences
-Eliminate the shootouts, award 3 points for a win and 1 point for forcing OT. Play until a goal breaks the deadlock even if it takes 5 OTs. This happens so rarely anyways and when it does its good publicity for the league.
-8 teams make the playoffs but the 1st and 2nd seed get 5 home games in the first round. You will climb a mountain to tear down what they worked for all season.
-Consider having an international cup to play foreign teams- could even be teams that don't make playoffs.

Final thought: I want my regular season to matter so please don't rape college football with a 16 team playoff. My only endorsed college football playoff proposal coming soon.

1 comment:

  1. Well put. The NHL has overexpanded. The talent is watered down, and interest in the sport has been diminished. However, it is about the bottom line, and my proposed contraction will never happen. In any event, the following teams need to be folded: Anaheim Ducks, Atlanta Thrashers, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, LA Kings, Nashville Predators, New York Islanders, Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks, and Tampa Bay Lightning. Thats 12 teams removed, bringing the total teams in the league down to 18. At that point, maybe only have the top 6 teams in the league make it, giving the top 2 seeds a bye in the first round. Imagine that sense of urgency in the regular season.