There are plenty of great division rivalries in professional sports.
The New York Yankees versus the Boston Red Sox and the Denver Broncos versus the Kansas City Chiefs are just a couple.
However, the time has come for divisions as we know them to end.
No longer should meaningless divisions determine playoff berths and seedings.
The most recent seasons in MLB and the NFL are perfect examples why.
This past season in the MLB, the St. Louis Cardinals (100-62), Pittsburgh Pirates (98-64) and Chicago Cubs (97-65) finished the 162-game schedule with the three best records in baseball. But since the Pirates and Cubs finished behind the Cardinals in the National League Central, the two teams were forced to play each other in a one-game wild card.
To give it some added perspective, the eventual World Series champion Kansas City Royals wouldn’t have made the playoffs if they had played in the NL Central. In previous playoff formats, the Cubs would have been absent from the postseason.
Instead of Pittsburgh having home-field advantage in a five-game series, the Pirates lost one game to the Cubs and their season was over.
Receiving only one postseason game after earning the second best record through 162 games doesn’t seem right.
In the NFL, the opposite problem is happening in two divisions.
No teams in the AFC South or NFC East divisions have winning records. The Houston Texans lead the AFC South with a 7-7 record, and the Washington Redskins pace the NFC East at 7-7.
Despite having worse records, the winners of these divisions will have home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
It’s time for the best teams to be rewarded appropriately.
Of course, nobody wants to see division rivalries completely dismantled. Common NFL rivals should play each other at least once a season, and teams such as the Yankees and Red Sox should continue to face off in a predetermined number of games each season.
But the playoffs should be determined by the best records in each league or conference and by nothing else.
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