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Playoff system admitting every team with a positive record

A winning record should automatically qualify you for the championship tournament
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In every professional league we have here in the U.S., and in every international competition I have seen, the qualifiers for the playoffs or championship tournament is determined in a way that is not equitable.

In many cases a team with a better record than a qualifier does not make it, simply because of the divisional alignment. In the NFL this is especially true - one conference is far better than the other, yet they admit an equal number of teams from each conference, so invariably a team that wins 9 games in the AFC misses the playoffs and a team that wins only 8 in the NFC makes it in.

My system is very simple, and will work for any type of tournament.

All teams with a winning record (i.e. more wins than losses) qualify for the tournament. We do not concern ourselves with always having a power of 2 total number of teams so that we can do a bracket-style tournament. All controversy over who makes the playoffs is eliminated. There will be no need for points-for-against tie-breakers, which I believe compromise the integrity of a single game (a single game should always stand on its own - a 5-0 win is the same as a 5-4 win: a win is a win).

There are two different ways to handle this, depending on the tournament structure.

For single-game tournament rounds, such as the NFL playoffs or college basketball, in each tournament round with an odd number of teams, the highest seeded team that has not skipped a round is awarded a bye to the next round. If no teams remain that have not already skipped a round, then the highest remaining seed gets a second bye, and so on.

For series-type tournaments, such as the NBA, the NHL and major league baseball, when there is an odd number of teams, the bottom three seeds play a round-robin series (2 games vs. each), while the other teams play the regular seven game series (top seed vs. low remaining, etc).

The three-team round-robin series may end after six games in one of five ways:

4-0, 2-2, 0-4 or
4-0, 1-3, 1-3 or
3-1, 2-2, 1-3 : simple, the top team advances.
3-1, 3-1, 0-4: the tied teams play a deciding game 7, winner advances
2-2, 2-2, 2-2: none of the teams advance.

Each round is treated this way. If three teams remain at the final round, then we will have the round-robin tournament until there is a winner (in other words, if it ends in the three-way tie, we do it all again). It would add excitement and eliminate one source of controversy.

globaltourniquet, Aug 20 2007

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       (+) for the paragraph breaks.   

       And (+) for the Chargers.
normzone, Aug 20 2007
  

       Hey [normzone], have you considered a change of name to [norvzone] yet?   

       It won't matter if the Chargers make the playoffs, though, will it? They will lose to a team they shouldn't. (suddenly the half-bakery is a sports message board...)
globaltourniquet, Aug 20 2007
  

       If this idea is implemented, then what's the point of having "divisions" ("conferences")?   

       I don't know much about sports so please forgive me if the question seems silly.
phundug, Aug 20 2007
  

       I know next to nothing about sports, and scarcely follow it at all, so it should come as no surprise that I have never understood the whole "divisions and conferences" thing. There's lots of teams that I don't understand why we never get to play them.   

       And [globaltourniquet], you've got a good point there. I have found a way to enjoy that, though. The dog teams come to town knowing they can win, and the superbowl champions come to town knowing that nothing is assured.
normzone, Aug 20 2007
  

       Not a silly question. Divisions are useful for determining schedules - during the season you play teams in your own division/conference more than others, creating rivalries, etc. Also, playoff seedings are still a factor with this system, and division winners, regardless of record, could still get higher seeds.
globaltourniquet, Aug 20 2007
  

       While I agree that _only_ winning teams should be allowed into the playoffs, I don't think that _all_ winning teams should be allowed. For the NFL, this would probably straighten a few things right out and would work.   

       But for sports that play a series, as you've suggested I see the playoff rounds lasting well into training camp, and perhaps into the next regular season.   

       Now, can you figure out something for NCAA football? :)
Noexit, Aug 23 2007
  

       [Noexit], for me, NCAA football gets the same thing - all teams with a winning record in a big tournament. After finals and during the spring semester. Are you kidding me? A great massive college football tournament during the spring? I would die for that.
globaltourniquet, Aug 23 2007
  

       Sports don't interest me much, but there is a mathematical question here.   

       If one team wins every game, and all other teams win (n-1) games and lose (n) games, does that eliminate the playoffs altogether? Is that possible?   

       Alternately, can almost everyone make the playoffs?
GutPunchLullabies, Aug 23 2007
  

       Obviously, total number of wins always equals total number of losses.   

       One team winning every game would be n and 0
everyone else, combined, would be n' and n+n'
  

       Certainly it's mathematically possible that no other team has a winning record, but it's highly unlikely, I would think. Of course, the more teams in the league, the less likely this is to occur.   

       The same goes for the converse (one team is 0 and n).
globaltourniquet, Aug 23 2007
  

       Not a gratutious bump - by way of defending my thesis I must point out at the end of the NFL regular season today - once again we have the situation predicted in the description, namely:   

       //invariably a team that wins 9 games in the AFC misses the playoffs and a team that wins only 8 in the NFC makes it in.//   

       We see that the Cleveland Browns, a "Cinderella" team this season that provided much excitement, won 10 games but will miss the playoffs because they are in the AFC, while the NFC's Washington Redskins made the playoffs with only 9 wins (and would have made it with only 8), much as I described above.   

       I rest my case.
globaltourniquet, Dec 31 2007
  
      
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