by: Keith Aksel
One of the most common topics for debate among sports fans is arguing the outcome of a contest. The NCAA basketball tournament, for example, constantly produces fodder for second-guessing winners and losers. Some arguments base themselves on “luck” in stating that a certain team got hot and played above themselves to secure a big upset. Other arguments stem from distaste about
bad refereeing or play calls that may overwhelmingly influence a contest’s outcome. In any case, these debates clearly reflect a long-run trend in fandom; we are often unsettled by the certainty of sports results.
In a broader sense, it seems that most second guessing is more about making a general argument about the method of determining a champion. Every sport employs a specific way of determining a champion, and their respective outcomes can produce satisfying or unsatisfying results. Some title-deciding methods produce higher rates of controversy than others, an issue rarely investigated by sports media today.
Beginning Thursday and continuing for the next three weeks, The Tattered Pennant will dig into the differences across championship deciding systems. From the one-off championship systems of college basketball and football, to the playoff series systems employed by most American pro leagues, we will highlight the dynamics at work in each method of deciding superiority in sports. As you will read, different methods priviledge different strengths of a team or individual, thereby partly influencing the outcome.
As we start to think more critically about the methods of deciding superiority in a sport, we can get closer to the roots of why we might debate or feel unsatisfied about an outcome. After outlining the dynamics at work in each system, each Tattered Pennant editor will weigh in on the method they feel is most effective at deciding superiority. As the fan, you can use our arguments to inform your own opinion. More importantly, we hope this series leaves you more sensitive to the differences at play across championship deciding systems, and a more critical fan in the end. See you Thursday.