Brilliant observation from Joe Posnanski today, in his post comparing the methods of determining champions by Major League Baseball and Premier League soccer:
… Maybe we as Americans — in large numbers — don’t watch sports to know “who is the best team.” Maybe we watch sports for the chance of surprise, for the potential drama, for reliable thrills. Over time, four playoff teams in baseball became eight. And this year, eight playoff teams become 10 with the addition of the second wildcard.
I’m not saying this is wrong … I don’t think it’s wrong. I think this is unquestionably what most people in America want. Still, there’s no question that the second wildcard — where now TWO teams that do not win their division are included in the playoffs — would be utterly antithetical to the way people in England watch sport. In England, they stick to their playoff-less system no matter how many boring championship endings they get. Here in America, we saw a flaw in our playoff system — a complicated flaw that seemed to cut the motivation for teams to win as many games as they could — and we have tried to fix it by adding more playoffs.
Seriously, doesn’t that get to the heart of the playoff debate for college football? On average, there aren’t that many schools that end the regular season with legitimate national title claims. Yet the next round of expansion, should it happen, will commit college football to a postseason format containing more teams than would ordinarily meet that standard. If you’re a “settle the best team on the field” kind of person, then a larger field detracts from your goal. But if you’re a surprise/drama advocate – go, Cindy, go! – then expansion to eight schools or more is hardly a bug.
I get it. I don’t think bracket junkies are wrong. I simply disagree with their priorities. I’d just like to have the same courtesies extended in my direction sometimes.