Assistant Sports Editor
The idea of expanding the postseason in any sport is a ridiculous thought. The only real reason that the postseason of a given sport would be expanded is to earn more revenue. As a sports fan, it makes me angry and upset that the postseason play is only dragged out because of revenue.
It’s always nice to think that a game is played because of the love one has for the sport. Sadly, that dream and pageantry gets lost when the business side of sports rears its ugly head. Each league creates policies that are essentially, a cash grab.
To put this in perspective, let’s talk about the NFL. I am a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan – well all Pittsburgh sports to be more specific – but that will come into play later. This past NFL season, my team had a chance to make into the playoffs with a .500 record at 8-8. In most seasons, any team with a record like Pittsburgh’s won’t come close to making the playoffs. This year, there were many teams that struggled and almost squeaked in with a subpar record.
The Steelers’ chance came down to the very last week of the season. There were several things that had to happen for them to make the playoffs, one of which was the San Diego Chargers losing against the Kansas City Chiefs. I became a Chiefs fan for a few hours so that my team could make the playoffs.
The game came down to the very end. Kansas City had a chance to kick the game-winning field goal with seconds left on the clock. I thought victory was sealed, and the Steelers had lucked their way into the playoffs. But the kick was missed and San Diego won in overtime, eliminating my team from the playoffs.
If the NFL had expanded the playoffs, the Steelers would have made it, and I would have not cared about the San Diego against Kansas City game. Because the playoff system is set in place, it literally came down to the very last second to see if my team would qualify, and it played to the love and pageantry that all of pro sports should be.
Even though I wanted so badly for the Chiefs to win, and Pittsburgh to make the playoffs, upon further thought and enlightenment I came to the conclusion that my team had no business being in the playoffs with an 8-8 record. If they wanted to be in the playoffs, the Steelers should have won more games to avoid the situation of depending on others.
By expanding the playoffs, there is less emphasis on winning regular season games. For example, NCAA basketball has been considered to have a poor regular season. A team can win the conference tournament and grab a spot in the national tournament, which has 68 teams playing for a national championship.
A team can have a poor season and still make it to the postseason. It takes away from the meaning of the regular season. College football, on the other hand, is different because every game matters and each week feels like a playoff game.
On the flip side of the coin, some leagues have the playoff system right, Major League Baseball being one of those. Despite having so many other problems within the sport, baseball got it right with the playoffs.
For instance, in the 2013 season the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team I cheer for, and the Cincinnati Reds had essentially the same record. With the last playoff spot on the line, both teams qualified for a one-game head-to-head matchup. The game was the first playoff appearance for the Pirates in 21 years. Had they not expanded, my team would have missed the playoffs.
I don’t think that adding more teams in playoffs for the NFL or the NCAA basketball tourney are good ideas. It makes the season mean less and gives more room for players to be injured, something the NFL is trying to be better at. The old cliché is right. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The playoff system ain’t broke, so don’t fix it.