Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Case for Relegation in American Sports

Americans tend to share an all common mentality, that we’re the greatest, at everything. Since the United States was established, this country has had much to showboat for. In the modern day state of the U.S., the multi-billion dollar industry that is sports has etched its way into a huge part of the American culture. While we
may have some of the best athletes and teams around the globe, there’s something that the red, white and blue are trailing in.

For years now, the Europeans have trumped American sports in one category: Relegation.

Relegation has been most popularized in the English Premier League (EPL). The concept is simple, yet provides some of the exciting drama that makes sports what they are.

In example, at the end of every season in the Premier League, the bottom three teams in the standings are relegated, or demoted down to a different league for lack of performance. Thus the three best teams from the league underneath are promoted to EPL in hopes of staying and competing with the best.

Year in and year out, EPL remains one of the most exciting leagues in the world due to not only the higher level teams competing for the championship, but also seemingly doing the impossible: Generating excitement from losing teams.

American sports, as great as they are, could use relegation. In the NFL, a game between a 4-11 team and a 3-12 team would gather little to no interest, even with fans from both respective sides. However, you throw in the fact that the loser won’t play in the NFL next year, and the notoriety/importance of the game is vastly multiplied.

Opposition will say otherwise, and that the four major sports leagues in the United States (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) are too far established and successful in order to change their formats to mirror those of the EPL. While it wouldn’t be the easiest task, relegation would benefit all four leagues in major ways.

Wouldn’t it be cool to see how the Saskatchewan Roughriders would fare against the Jacksonville Jaguars? Or FC Barcelona’s basketball team against the Milwaukee Bucks?

While relegation surely won’t make an appearance anytime soon, the future of American sports would be better off incorporating it into their standard formats. Relegation adds excitement to all levels of the league, almost eliminates tanking by lower level teams and will drive in a new fan base for owners, adding more revenue for the teams.

As American citizens/consumers/sports fans we strive for the absolute best, and nothing less. The idea of instituting relegation likewise to our English counter-parts in the sports world, some would call that idea, revolutionary. 

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