Pro Sports: Too Many Teams, Too Many Games
Before I go on my rant and make my points about the subject title, I know that money talks and bull poop walks. The reason why there's been so much expansion in all 4 major sports over the past 20 - 30 years, is because of CA$H! It's all about the Benjamin's baby! Yea, well I get the financial part of professional sports and even college programs, but that doesn't mean you're getting a better product on the field, court and ice.
courtesy of YouTube
Professional sports is a business and some of the franchises have it much tougher than others. The big market comes into play. Pro athletes like playing for high profile teams. Playing in warmer weather. Playing for a storied franchise. Playing to chase a ring. Playing to join your friends. Players who only care about the money will go play anywhere and if they're a highly paid player, that athlete is gobbling up his salary when that cash could have been spread out to help the organization. Instead you have a great player getting paid maximum bucks and still losing every season because the TEAM is no good. Players have more power now than ever before as to where and what team they would like to join. That simply makes the competition weaker. Straight up!
Let me ask you a question! Do you enjoy viewing your favorite NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL teams knowing the season will end and the playoffs are a pipe dream? Is it fun watching Super Teams being built while your favorite squad is in rebuilding mode? Does it give you pleasure seeing your lifelong family team fail every season? Of course the answer is NO! And due to so much expansion in the 4 major sports, it makes it more likely that your childhood favorite athletes and teams will never win a championship because of the franchise they play for.
courtesy of Reuters
Here's the point I'm making here. Sometimes more of something good isn't necessarily a good thing. We have been blessed watching absolutely the best of the best in each sport like Jordan and the Bulls going 6 for 6 in the NBA Finals. Or LeBron leading his teams to 10 championship appearances. How about the domination of Tom Brady and the Patriots who ran the NFL for two decades. Then there's the Yankees and Red Sox in baseball (from late 1990's - all the way through to 2010 at least) being the two best teams in the sport and whichever team advances was likely going to win the World Series. As far as Hockey goes, the Penguins won back to back Stanley Cups in (2016 - 2017) and the Lightning won the last two NHL Stanley Cup Finals (2020 - 2021). So Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay have won 4 of the last 6 Stanley Cups. Starting to see the pattern?!
courtesy of Patriots Wire - USA Today
Where's the diversity? Where's the level playing field? Where's the competition? Why are the same 4 teams in each sport always the front-runners to win the title? The real answer is greed but the plausible rebuttal is that there are just too many teams and the level of tiers that players fall in have a very wide range.
Or do you like it when one or two teams dominate the playoff landscape and label them as the "villains" of their sport?
When a sport has too many teams, the level of competition breaks down. Why? Well it's because the talent in professional sports is so spread out with the exception of a few teams who have loaded up the best players in their sport to win that championship. Let me give you some examples of certain franchises who have been taken prisoner by the building of Super Teams and the widespread talent in pro sports spotted all over an over abundance of franchises.
Going back 40+ years, the NFL once had a 14 game regular season schedule. Professional football now has a 17 game season. First of all that's a dumb number as half the league will have one extra home game. But before this football year there were 16 games in the regular season. No team should only win 4 games, or 3, or 2 or 1 or the worst - going (0 - 16) in a season like the Detroit Lions in 2008 and the Cleveland Browns in 2017. In this modern day era of professional sports - this type of situation should never occur. And Yes Yes, you can certainly attribute lack of success from the owner on down to the coach. But the players play the game! It's up to the league to create an even playing field.
When the NFL expanded and brought in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976, the brand new expansion team in the league failed to win a single game going (0 - 14) on the season. The Bucs were a completely irrelevant team until Tony Dungy took over as head coach and the Bucs finally became relevant in the late 1990's and early 2000's. It took this franchise over 20 years to become a winning team. They were set up for failure.
courtesy of Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In the NBA it's not easy being a Sacremento Kings fan, or a Timberwolves fan, or even the Hornets and Wizards don't give their fans any hope in the beginning, middle or end of the season. The NBA may have more talent in the league now more than ever. Even still, we see the same 4 - 5 teams that could win it all and about 25 teams who have no shot at being a true contender.
I'm a Mets fan and a Knicks fan. In my lifetime which began in 1980, only one of these teams has brought home a championship in over 40 years. The Mets won the World Series in 1986. I was 6 years old and not yet mature enough to comprehend how great that moment was. Thank goodness my front-running father made me a San Francisco 49ers fan as they dominated the 80's winning 4 Super Bowls. I'm a Mets fan because at that time the Mets were actually better than the Yankees. Obviously he can't see the future! And I'm a Knicks fan because they were the only New York team in basketball as the now Brooklyn Nets were playing ball in New Jersey.
I understand the pain of knowing that a successful season for the Knicks or Mets was just making the playoffs. We weren't beating Jordan's Bulls and the Yankees owned the backpage of the paper with the Mets being posed as the Red-Headed Stepchild.
courtesy of Mets360
Bottom Line - there are too many teams and too many games! Does Major League Baseball really need 162 games a season to find out who the playoff teams will be? No, that's absolutely ridiculous! Just another money grab! Do you believe the NBA and NHL need 82 games just to let half the league in the post season anyway? The NFL went from 14 games to 16 and now the freaky mathematicians decided to have an odd amount of match ups to 17 regular season games. Plus the NFL also added a playoff spot in the tournament. What's next?! Each league will play a maximum amount of games and call the whole season the playoffs?!
I know it won't happen but if I had it my way, I'd drop at least 4 franchises from each major sport and spread the talent around to have a much more level playing field. I'd also cut the NBA, NHL and especially MLB a bunch of unnecessary games. In its stead, I would look for ways to make the regular season more exciting by cutting out some games and putting more emphasis on these regular season match ups, like in college football where every single game counts. I'd also cut down traveling by having longer series in baseball spread throughout the season.
We can all admit it because the proof is there. Not all players are fully engaged in every regular season contest, maybe with the exception of the NFL who only play their games once a week. Either that or players simply take the day off. And how and why should they be full go all the time! We ask a lot from these athletes. Constantly flying around the country on red-eye flights just to get to another city and play another game in less than 24 hours. Not to mention, the more games they play the higher the probability a player will suffer an injury. Shorten the season and expand the competition by contracting those franchises who have a winning season once every 15 years. With less teams we'll have more talent spread around other organizations, thus making the league more competitive.
Do you agree?