Saturday, October 1, 2016
End the Playoff Scourge
One the things repeated around these parts is the circle of hell that is playoff talk. Over at the Columbus Dispatch, they are aware of the ridiculousness but do nothing in response to it. Here are some recent headlines from just last week:
"Ola Kamara's two goals keep playoff hopes alive"
"Heard this before? Every game is a must-win"
"Playoff fate now out of Crew's hands"
This is not to pick on the Dispatch. All news outlets in most markets devolve into mindless commentary about making the playoffs this time of year. Massive Report is a better place to get info on the team but much of the discussion still revolves around playoff situations.
The problem with all of this is that it detracts from what we are watching on the field. As in; the events happening within the game are completely cast aside for the End Result.
Important questions around play, style, player quality, improvement, future plans, etc are lost in the black hole that is the MLS playoffs.
What's interesting is that this playoff crack is much like a real drug. It's a quick fix and leaves you empty. Over in the corner of the Dispatch site you will find a podcast summary "Our reporters take a look at the disappointing end to the Columbus Crew Season." Like, they just want it to end already.
The reason for that is clear. They are sick and tired talking about a Cup that they know won't happen is because that's all they know how to talk about. They don't know the game. It doesn't excite them and they would rather be covering something else.
The key here is this: Not every sport is the same. You can't make it the same. Soccer, like the gridiron, like rugby, like hockey, is different.
For soccer, which has evolved in concert with common league structures all over the world for 150 years, it's having a tiered system where teams move up and down and a balanced schedule. This ensures competitive matches all season and championships for more than just one team (among many other things, but let's keep it on the competitive side).
These reporters who just want to see the end should be talking about next season in the lower tier. What players are worth keeping, what the budget will be, who will be managing the team. If this were the case we would be seeing the absolute best out of the teams out of the bottom right now. We'd see players and coaches trying anything and everything. Fightin', scratching, clawing. We'd see what they are made of. Really made of. Not the cliche you hear all the time.
But, we will not. We'll see two bad teams playing like it's April.
This post is in addition to "A Competitive Myth"