In Belgium there are still a lot of cool playoff fans, but in the US they’ve been fans of the system for over 50 years. How to explain this difference? We’ll find out in a new episode of Sporza @ School.
Size America was born from the playoffs
Ten years ago, the first play-offs were played in Belgium. A decade later, opponents of the system are still numerous. And this while the play-offs in the United States are invariably the highlight of the season. Why are they excited about it in America?
The United States as a country is larger than all of Europe, with different time zones. It’s a logistical nightmare to play in Los Angeles one day and again in New York a few days later. Plus you win or lose 3 hours across time zones. To meet these practical and financial challenges, all sports competitions in the United States are divided into different conferences.
The NBA is divided between East and West. You play twice a year against a club from the other Conference and 3 to 4 times against a club from your own Conference.
In American football, it’s even better. There, 32 teams play just 16 matches each year. So some teams only meet every 4 years. Imagine that there would only be one match between Anderlecht and Club Brugge every 4 years!
Until recently, the All Star match was played between the best players in the East and the West.
Tradition, constructive excitement and attention to each sport
Because it is unfair to name a champion after the regular season with this uneven schedule, the play-offs have been created.
These playoffs have been around in all American sports from the start. This is also the reason why no one in the United States is questioning this system yet. In other words, it’s a tradition.
An advantage of the play-offs is in all cases that the competition reaches its climax. Just like in a video game, you can choose a heavier opponent in each level. And although fewer teams participate in the awards, more and more Americans are starting to catch up. The Super Bowl, the annual final of American football, is still the most-watched sports game of the year.
And that brings us to the final difference between Europe and the United States. Here with us, football is king and other sports take a back seat. In America, the 4 traditional sports (basketball, ice hockey, football and baseball) have to fight for the attention of sports fans. By keeping the different play-offs out of each other’s waters, every sport has its place in the sun every year. These Americans looked at that!
About 150 million people in the United States watch the Super Bowl each year.
Play-offs in American sports
- Ice Hockey (NHL): April-June
- American football (NFL): januari-februari
- Basketball (NBA): April-June
- Football (MLS): October-November
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