Sports Opinion: Best and Worst Playoff Systems in Sports

Kevin Sethre, Staff Writer

With the NBA and Stanley Cup playoffs coming to an end and the MLB playoffs scheduled to start next month, I decided to rank the playoffs of the four major sports leagues in the U.S (NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB) as well as the college football and basketball leagues.

  1. March Madness– The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, better known as March Madness, takes the top spot in large part because of the number of upsets and Cinderella stories that come out of it. The single-elimination format makes every game more intense as powerhouse teams try to fend off upstart schools trying to make a name for themselves.
  2. MLB playoffs- October baseball truly showcases the best of the best, with Major League Baseball only letting in one-third of teams in a typical year. There are more teams allowed this year because of the pandemic-shortened season, but it will still be entertaining. One thing that I will miss most is the crowd. A typical baseball crowd is quieter than crowds for other sports, but a playoff crowd lives and dies with every pitch, adding to the intensity.
  3. Stanley Cup playoffs- The NHL’s postseason is full of surprises that rival March Madness. For example, all four division winners were eliminated by wild card teams in the first round last season. Every goal feels critical in the playoffs, and every hit is powerful. The Stanley Cup playoffs have also had four teams come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a seven-game series, the most of any sport.
  4. NBA playoffs- The NBA playoffs are full of entertaining games and great individual performances, but there have been times in recent seasons where they have been less exciting, like when the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers met in the Finals for four straight seasons from 2015-2018.
  5. NFL playoffs- While the Super Bowl may be my favorite championship game in any sport, the rest of the NFL playoffs don’t always live up to the hype. There have been some great stories recently, like when the Tennessee Titans made a surprising run to the AFC Championship game last season by knocking off six-time champion Tom Brady and league MVP Lamar Jackson in consecutive weeks.
  6. College Football Playoff- The college football regular season is great, with surprising upsets nearly every week and the rankings changing all the time. The postseason is definitely exciting, but I would enjoy it more if they had more than just four teams.