What if American Pro Sports worked like the BPL?
The Barclays Premier League season runs from August to May every year. In that season, 20 teams battle for the championship. But, they also battle to stay in England’s top soccer league. If a team finishes in the bottom three spots of the league, they will be relegated to the Football League Championship, the second-tier league. But that also gives the top three teams in that league a chance to compete in the BPL the following season. This season, Hull City, Burnley, and Queens Park Rangers were sent out of the BPL and to the lower league. Now, when the 2015-2016 season begins, Bournemouth, Watford, and Norwich City will have a chance to compete in the BPL.
All of this got me to thinking: how would this look in major American professional sports leagues like the NBA, NHL, MLB, and NFL? Well, for one thing, it would definitely put a greater emphasis on the regular season if that is how a champion was crowned. Without a playoff system, teams would have to win the regular season outright to be declared champs. Secondly, it would end tanking. Teams would no longer be able to lose intentionally to get a better draft pick and prepare for the following season. And finally, I think it would be interesting to see. It would cause all of these leagues to build a better infrastructure and that would mean more teams across North American.
So, how would it look? Well, I have broken down every league and noted who would have been the champions and which teams would be relegated. And since every league has more than 20 teams, I relegated the bottom four. So without any wait, let’s look at the big four leagues in America and see how this would look.
Gone would be two months of playoff games. Gone would be the chances for LeBron James and the Cavaliers to try and upset the Warriors in the NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors would have already been crowned NBA Champions and finished a historically great season. But while the Warriors would have been named champs, other teams would be facing life outside of the NBA.
If the NBA also relegated like the BPL, then the Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, New York Knicks, and Minnesota Timberwolves would all be moving to a new league next season. Could you imagine an NBA without a team in Philadelphia? Or the NBA without the Knicks and Lakers? That’s exactly how it would be and the NBA would look to the D-League for teams to promote. And by following the latest season’s standings, that would be the Santa Cruz Warriors, Maine Red Claws, Bakersfield Jam, and the Austin Spurs. That’s right, a San Antonio-Austin battle of the spurs and a professional sports franchise in Maine!
Just as with the NBA, the playoffs that took place over the last two months would be gone. The Blackhawks and Lightning wouldn’t even have a chance at winning the Stanley Cup. The New York Rangers would have been crowned champions at the end of the season. The President Trophy winners would not have had to worry about winning throughout the playoffs to be the champions.
The NHL would also be saying goodbye to the Buffalo Sabres, Arizona Coyotes, Edmonton Oilers, and Toronto Maple Leafs. While the Sabres, Oilers, and Coyotes don’t have an extremely lengthy history in the league, the Maple Leafs are an “Original Six” team! That’s like the MLB not having the Yankees.
The NHL could then look to the AHL for teams to promote. By the last standings, that means that the Manchester Monarchs, Utica Comets, Grand Rapids Griffins, and Hershey Bears would now be playing in the NHL. An while hockey could definitely thrive in Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, and probably New Hampshire too, I’m not sure the cities would be big enough to draw a lot of fans.
The World Series Champions would still have been from California in 2014, but it wouldn’t be the San Francisco Giants. Instead of a great World Series featuring Madison Bumgarner’s amazing performance and the feisty Kansas City Royals, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim would have been the champions. The team that struggles in the postseason wouldn’t have to worry about that because they would have already won the championship trophy.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers, Colorado Rockies, and Houston Astros would all be relegated to a Triple-A league. That would be a shame in some ways though as the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Rangers were all in the postseason not that long ago. And the Astros have been one of the biggest surprises of the 2015 season, which they wouldn’t have the chance to do if they were relegated. Instead, Major League Baseball would have teams like the Pawtucket Red Sox, Omaha Storm Chasers, Oklahoma City Dodgers, and the Mexican League’s Diablos Rojos del Mexico. That’s right, another Red Sox, another Dodgers, a team in a small Midwestern town, and a team in Mexico City!
Remember how good the Super Bowl was? Well, imagine it never happened. The New England Patriots are not the champions. The Seattle Seahawks would not have been a play away from being the champs. Instead, the Patriots and Seahawks would have been joined by the Broncos, Packers, and Cowboys with a league-best record of 12-4. But because of league tiebreakers, the Dallas Cowboys would have been named champions of the NFL. Wow! Instead of their season ending on a questionable call on the Dez Bryant “catch/no catch” play, they would have closed out the 2014 season raising the Lombardi Trophy.
The NFL would be relegating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Oakland Raiders, and Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags had some success early on in their existence, but have struggled for a while now. The Titans have seemed to be the least -relevant team in the NFL for years now. The Bucs have been up and down but never managed to have the success they once had. And the Oakland Raiders are an NFL staple with a rich history. But that history was a long time ago and the Raiders have been awful for a long time now. But who be promoted? There is no minor league or developmental system in the NFL. There are independent minor leagues, indoor leagues, and the NCAA. That is all. Using the BPL system would actually be a positive for the NFL to create a minor league system. They wouldn’t need another full league. Just something like they once had with the NFL Europe. But maybe this would be the way for Los Angeles, Toronto, and London to get in the league if they want to be in it so much!
Daryl Karpinski Jr.