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Should We Do Away with Conferences?

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This year, the NBA announced that it will be changing the All-Star Game format to a draft. The two captains will be the top vote getters in each conference, and the NBA will pick from the 12 best players from each conference. This raises the question as to why is the NBA still using conferences? They have acknowledged that they are lopsided, and the only reason for conferences is scheduling teams in close proximity, but that can easily be worked around.

The Western Conference has dominated the NBA for over a decade. In 17 out of the last 18 seasons, the they have had a better overall record than the East. The players are better, and the majority of All Stars are in the West. The NBA clearly acknowledges this and does not want another blowout of an All-Star Game, so this year they are taking out the East versus West format and imputing the draft.

Turning the playoffs into a conferenceless event is big deal in all sports. Last year, for example, three out of the four best teams in the NBA were in the Western Conference. This essentially means they were winning more games in a better conference, further highlighting the difference in skill level.

A conference-less system like this should also be implemented in football too. The NFL should never take 8-8 division leaders over a 10-6 team. In 2015, the hometown New York Jets finished 10-6 in the AFC East and missed the playoffs because of a tiebreak. In the NFC that same year, the Washington Redskins finished 9-7 and received not only a playoff spot, but also better seeds than the two NFC Wild Card finishers at 10-6. Why are teams being rewarded for winning in a worse division? The idea is mind boggling. The format should not be so complicated. Getting into the playoffs in a season with a worse record than a team that did make it is ridiculous, as it means the Redskins won less games in weaker conference. Sophomore Brett Zornberg says, “ The NFL should ignore the conferences and switch to completely record based seeding.”

Back to the NBA, another example of a team with a poor record beating out a superior one due to conference-based seeding is in 2014-15 when a 45-win Thunder team missed the playoffs, and in the East, three teams with worse records earned a postseason spot. How do they make it over a 45 win team? The Nets even won seven less games. Sophomore Jake Belmont agrees by saying, “The team with the better record should be rewarded.”

The NBA knows this is a problem. The only excuse is scheduling, but working around travel is a weak excuse for a horrible system that rewards placement on a map. The East is and has been ten times worse. Even in the NFL, when a fluke like the 7-9 Seahawks make it in 2010, six teams with better records did not make the playoffs. “This makes no sense. Why would anybody that is worse get in the playoffs?” sophomore Jesse Lehman said.

These leagues need to find a way to resolve this obvious problem. Being on the same coast as another team should not determine whether or not a team makes the playoffs. This needs to be fixed soon. No more can teams that do not win enough games make the playoffs. The examples are endless, and the fix is obvious, so the major professional sports leagues need to do just that.

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Should We Do Away with Conferences?