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Old 02-06-2020, 02:29 PM
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League divided into two conferences - primarily an American thing?


The four major US sports leagues - NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL - are all divided into two main conferences such that two eventual champions emerge from each conference and play for the overall championship (AFC vs. NFC in the Super Bowl, Eastern vs. Western in the NBA Finals, etc.)


Is this mostly an American thing, or do most other nation's sports leagues do it this way too? (European soccer, for instance, seems to be totally different with its points and relegation system; and soccer tournaments are generally divided into group play and brackets)
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Old 02-06-2020, 03:33 PM
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Much of the reason for the two conferences thing is that they were originally competing leagues that joined together for a common championship. Eventually they would merge into one league, with the original leagues becoming conferences.
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Old 02-06-2020, 03:40 PM
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http://www.sumotalk.com/structure.htm

"It should be noted here that all ranks and divisions in sumo are divided into the East group and the West group. For example, in the Juryo rank there are 28 rikishi. Instead of ranking these rikishi 1 through 28, they are divided into two groups, East and West, and the rikishi in each group are ranked 1 through 14 with the East rank being the most prestigious. The top two rikishi in Juryo will be ranked 1 East and 1 West respectively. The East-West aspect of sumo is rather meaningless; it mainly determines from which side the rikishi will enter the ring before his bout."
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Old 02-06-2020, 03:43 PM
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Note that college sports don’t do this. Generally the best teams go into some sort of series of elimination matches until the two best teams face each other in the championship. You might have divisions but you don’t have a league cut in half, then the best from one side fights the best from the other side. So this isn’t a universal American thing for all sports.

But it does seem to be pretty universal for professional sports. Look at Major League Soccer; that wasn’t formed by a merger, they just divided it into the East and West conferences by choice, I suspect to mirror what other major US pro sports did. The championship in MLS is indeed the best of the two conferences competing for a cup. So at this point, although the concept started because of the mergers of different sports leagues wanting to preserve some distinctiveness, it’s now just tradition and an expectation of American sports fans to have that structure in pro sports.
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Old 02-06-2020, 03:44 PM
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In addition to the mergers, the size of the US/Canada means that travel is prohibitively expensive and exhausting for teams that play every other day. The NBA and NHL are divided geographically to cut down on travel to some degree. You play the most games against teams that aren't that far away. Baseball addresses it by have series, where you play 2-5 games against a single team, and football only plays once per week.

MLB is the only league where the division of conferences really means anything; namely the designated hitter is used in the American League only.
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Old 02-06-2020, 04:07 PM
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The NFL’s AFC/NFC division has nothing to do with geography, and was born from the NFL/AFL merger. But each conference is subdivided info divisions that are geographic, and 6 out of the 16 regular season games for each team is with a division rival, which does cut down on travel. So there is some practicality to that.

It’s also not just for benefit of teams; fans are more likely to travel to see a game that’s closer.
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Old 02-06-2020, 04:30 PM
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And it’s mostly TV that drives things these days. So, the major sports try to keep things organized by time zones as much as possible. The NBA/NHL/MLB have a lot of games and they’d like to avoid the 10 pm start times for Eastern teams and 4 pm starts for the West coast teams as much as possible. The most die hard Yankees fan isn’t likely to stay up for a Tuesday 10 PM start against Seattle while the Dodgers fan may like to see the 4 PM first pitch against the Phillies but the boss calls an emergency meeting.

For football, it doesn’t matter as much with most games on Sunday afternoon

Most countries don’t span multiple time zones so it doesn’t affect them.
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Old 02-09-2020, 03:28 PM
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It's all historical.

MLB, the NHL, and the NFL all started out with single leagues (two in the case of MLB) with no divisions.

Baseball ending up creating the World Series because fans argued as to which winning team was better. Due to the public pressure (and the chance to make a buck), the World Series was set up.

The NHL had Stanley Cup playoffs, but they took the top teams of their single division (they also experimented with first half vs. second half champions). Early Stanley cups were also contested against teams from the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, until it folded in 1924. At that point, the NHL remained a single league for decades.

The NFL also played as a single league in its early years. In 1933, it was suggested they have a championship game to increase interest, and the league was the first to split in two divisions. When the NBA came along, they saw how well it worked for football, and started with a set of playoffs between divisions.

In addition to the publicity and money involved in a championship game, the smaller divisions made for more fan interest. If you were in 10th place halfway through the season, attendance would drop off, and teams would go under. In a five-team division, it didn't look so bad, especially if the first-place team was close to you in the standings. Also, by grouping teams geographically -- the way it was generally done -- it helped cut down on travel time and expenses.

The NHL remained at one division until it expanded in 1967. It was an ambitious effort, doubling the number of teams in the league. But because the expansion teams were not expected to compete with the original 6, they were all put in their own division, which had its own bracket for the Stanley Cup.

Baseball was the last of the big four. Once they expanded beyond 10 teams, they saw the need for two divisions. It was supposed to be geographical, but there were issues with teams losing traditional rivalries, which is why the Cardinals and Cubs were in the East and the Braves in the West.

So, ultimately, the reason for it was primarily money: it added extra games and extra revenue and reduced expenses.
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Old 02-09-2020, 05:35 PM
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The NHL had Stanley Cup playoffs, but they took the top teams of their single division (they also experimented with first half vs. second half champions). Early Stanley cups were also contested against teams from the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, until it folded in 1924. At that point, the NHL remained a single league for decades.
The NHL was always a single league. The PCHA and the other western league whose name I forget were always separate. But during the 20's the NHL split into two divisions. At it's height, in 1926-1931 there were 10 teams in Canadian and American divisions. The 4 teams that didn't become part of the "original" six were Pittsburgh (later Philadelphia), Montreal Maroons, New York Americans, Ottawa. It lost some teams but continued with two divisions until 1938.

It didn't reduce to the "original" 6 until the fall of 1942
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Old 02-09-2020, 11:27 PM
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Isn't it true that the "National" in National Hockey League originally referred to Canada?
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Old 02-09-2020, 11:39 PM
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Isn't it true that the "National" in National Hockey League originally referred to Canada?
Yes. The four original teams in 1917 were all Canadian. US teams weren't added until 1924.
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Old 02-10-2020, 09:11 AM
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The NFLís AFC/NFC division has nothing to do with geography, and was born from the NFL/AFL merger. But each conference is subdivided info divisions that are geographic, and 6 out of the 16 regular season games for each team is with a division rival, which does cut down on travel. So there is some practicality to that.
Well, to the greatest extent possible, but there's some weird situations. Jacksonville is in the AFC South; Miami, which is indisputably the most southern team the NFL has, is in the AFC East. The Cowboys are plunked into the NFC East because of rivalries, thus relegating any number of more eastern teams to other divisions.

Geographic alignment in Niorth America will invariably suffer from the fact that there are more people and more/larger markets in the East. The two leagues that really split it up that way, the NBA and NHL, have Western conferences that are extremely spread out.
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Old 02-10-2020, 09:23 AM
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Note that college sports donít do this.
The Big 10, PAC 10, and SEC Conferences do this . At least in Football. They are split between East and West (or North and South for the PAC 10).
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Old 02-10-2020, 09:42 AM
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The ACC has 2 divisions for FB and Baseball but not for hoops.
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Old 02-10-2020, 10:14 AM
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The Big 10, PAC 10, and SEC Conferences do this . At least in Football. They are split between East and West (or North and South for the PAC 10).
No. You are talking about individual conferences within NCAA football. They didnít take the entirety of football and cut it in two, with half the teams in one and half in the other. Thatís not even close to what the topic of this thread is about.
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Old 02-10-2020, 10:19 AM
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Well, to the greatest extent possible, but there's some weird situations. Jacksonville is in the AFC South; Miami, which is indisputably the most southern team the NFL has, is in the AFC East. The Cowboys are plunked into the NFC East because of rivalries, thus relegating any number of more eastern teams to other divisions.

Geographic alignment in Niorth America will invariably suffer from the fact that there are more people and more/larger markets in the East. The two leagues that really split it up that way, the NBA and NHL, have Western conferences that are extremely spread out.
At least Dallas is relatively east; if you cut the country in half geographically it would fall on the eastern side of that line. Not far from it but still, at least itís not in a western division.

Jacksonville and Miami are in the SE corner of the country so would fit in either a southern or eastern division so no shenanigans there. I agree it would make more sense for them to swap divisions though. Maybe when Jacksonville finally moves to London they will do that; it would certainly be the eastern-most team at that point.
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Old 02-10-2020, 02:38 PM
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At least Dallas is relatively east; if you cut the country in half geographically it would fall on the eastern side of that line. Not far from it but still, at least itís not in a western division.

Jacksonville and Miami are in the SE corner of the country so would fit in either a southern or eastern division so no shenanigans there. I agree it would make more sense for them to swap divisions though. Maybe when Jacksonville finally moves to London they will do that; it would certainly be the eastern-most team at that point.
They would also be the northernmost team, and by a pretty substantial margin.

London would be the second-northernmost team in the CANADIAN Football League, actually.
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Old 02-10-2020, 03:13 PM
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The Mexican League of AAA baseball has North and South divisions.

Nippon Professional Baseball has Central and Pacific leagues.

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Old 02-10-2020, 06:30 PM
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In baseball for a long time the Braves were in the west division because there were not enough teams located in the west.
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Old 02-10-2020, 06:56 PM
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No. You are talking about individual conferences within NCAA football. They didnít take the entirety of football and cut it in two, with half the teams in one and half in the other. Thatís not even close to what the topic of this thread is about.
That seems a little silly, it would be more like the EPL splitting into North and South divisions. The NCAA in this case is more like UEFA.
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Old 02-10-2020, 07:50 PM
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NCAA FB conferences split in 2 to add a championship game, mainly for extra cash. Champ game is played at a neutral site except the smaller leagues sometimes allow the best record team to host, Mountain West does that.
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Old 02-10-2020, 07:51 PM
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In baseball for a long time the Braves were in the west division because there were not enough teams located in the west.
Not at all. Beginning in 1969 when the split into East and West division, the Atlanta Braves and the Cincinnati Reds were in the West while the Chicago Cuibs and St. Louis Cardinals were in the East. They could have made it geographical by swapping those two.
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Old 02-10-2020, 09:08 PM
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If you think that was weird, consider that originally, when the NL decided to expand to 12 teams (they added San Diego and Montreal in 1969) their intended to have no divisions at all. The American League, which had first expanded to 12 teams in part to get Congress not to do bad things to them (long story) was committed to the idea of having two divisions and a playoff round, but the NL wanted to stay with the "everyone in one division" thing because it wasn't traditional. They believed the public would hate it. The AL, conversely, believed no one was gonna buy tickets to see a team in 12th place. Some people floated the idea of splitting everyone up into three 8-team leagues. It is odd to think of this now, but at the time the AL and NL were VERY independent of one another, with separate presidents and everything, to an extent they are not today (and no major sports league today has any equivalent.)

Anyway, the NL owners were cajoled into going to divisions but then there was a huge fight over how to split them up; in fact, they resisted calling them "East" and "West" like the American League was planning to do. The Mets wanted to be in a division with the Dodgers and Giants, to leverage the rivalry against the old New York teams who, remember, were only twelve years removed from Brooklyn and Manhattan. The Dodgers hated the Padres and didn't want anything to do with them because they didn't want to share Southern California with another NL team. The Phillies and Pirates mostly just wanted to be in the same division with each other.

The Cardinals and Cubs' primary concern was, like the Pennsylvania teams, to be in the same division. So apparently, the Mets, because they continued to put up a huge fuss, were given the concession of being in a division with the Cardinals, then the NL's premiere team, and Cubs; no one was willing to give them the insanity of being in a division with the Giants and Dodgers. The Cardinals and Cubs, who insisted on being together, swung East, and the Reds and Braves got jobbed.

Oh, Charlie Finley... I wanted to add one thing. Shyster though he was, it was Finley who built the superpower the A's became. They were a joke franchise when he bought them and existed to basically trade good players to the Yankees. Finley invested a lot of time andmoney in scouting and minor league development, and my God what a team they built; Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando, Catfish Hunter, Vida Blue, Joe Rudi and a dozen others. He was his own GM, and he built that.
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Old 02-10-2020, 10:13 PM
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The American League, which had first expanded to 12 teams in part to get Congress not to do bad things to them (long story)
Uh uh. Nope. Nope. Nope.

You ain't leaving it there. Story. Now. Or I report you for trolling.

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Old 02-10-2020, 10:57 PM
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Uh uh. Nope. Nope. Nope.
You ain't leaving it there. Story. Now. Or I report you for trolling.
Read here in particular about the KC Royals and Seattle Pilots.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1969_M...ball_expansion
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Old 02-10-2020, 11:16 PM
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WEll, sure, okay.

After the 1967 season Charlie Finley moved the A's from Kansas City, where they had had an absolutely miserable run, to Oakland. (Finley was not the owner who moves the A's from Philly to KC; he bought the team after that happened.)

It's quite impossible for me to describe Charlie Finley in terms that have any relation to anything that exists today. Finley was a businessman but maybe half a step short of being an outright grifter. He made his money in group insurance but his practices were quite something; sometimes he would go for a drive with a client, go to the nicest part of town, point at the best mansion and say it was his but that he was out of doors because it was being worked on. Finley tried to buy any number of MLB teams but the owners distrusted him. There really isn't anyone like him now; today, pretty much all MLB owners are giant corporations or billionares who keep their nose out of the team. Finley was a cheap, weird PR man totally unencumbered by scruples in a time when MLB was a cheaper, less corporate enterprise. He was like George Steinbrenner but in many ways worse.

He ended up getting the A's kind of by default; as I recall, their owner died. Various buyers had sought the A's intended to move them but Finley promised to keep them in KC so the city hailed him as a saviour. He immediately became MLB's wildest, most colordul and most utterly batshit owner. He made a mule the team mascot, named the mule after himself, and brought it to social events and had it walk around the field before games. He pulled in the right field fence to like 260 feet to imitate Yankee Stadium and when MLB made him move it back he painted a line on the field wheere it had been and ordered the announcer to say "That ball would have been a home run in New York" every time a ball went over it. He gave the team its wild green and gold color scheme. He held every conceivable kind of promotion you can imagine. He installed fans to blow dirt off home plate, had a machine to pop up out of the ground and hand new baseball to the ump, started the thing where a car brings relief pitchers to the mound. He did stunt things in game too, like having Bert Campaneris play every position in one game.

Despite his promise to keep the A's in KC, Finley began more or less immediately to bitch about KC's stadium and look at moving. Practically every city in America was a candidate at some point. He actually decided to move to Oakland a few years before he did but the league refused to let him move. But after 1967 it was clearly going to happen.

Well, Stuart Symington, senator from Missouri, was pissed. I dunno what his personal problem was, but he started talking about reviewing baseball's antitrust exemption, so the American LEague decided to cut off that talk, at least from KC, by expanding. And so the Royals were born, along with, to balance it out, the Seattle Pilots.

Of course, lawsuits and whatnot continued, because the Seattle Pilots only lasted on year there before a guy named Bud Selig took them to Milwaukee to become the Brewers (this replacing Selig's beloved Braves, who had decamped from Milwaukee not long before.) Seattle sued the AL, and that suit dragged on for years and weas finally settled by... expanding again, adding the Seattle Mariners and the Toronto Blue Jays, partly to balance it out but also because there was an excellent chance TORONTO would sue, too.

You see, Toronto expected to get their own team through a move... the Giants. Toronto's government had been pursuing a baseball team with single minded madness ever since Montreal got one, and big corporations were all in. The money was there, the stadium was there (well, it was a dump, but whaddya gonna do) but no team. Guess who had the lowest attendance in MLB and was looking to sell? The Giants. They were a wreck. MLB approved the sale and move. But the very week that sale was made George Moscone became mayor of SF, and he intended for the Giants to stay. SF sued, got an injunction, and convinced Bob Lurie to buy the team. How they got the existing owner to accept a lower bid I really don't know.

The Toronto group had signed an agreement, so they were PISSED. Lawyers were summoned for battle. So the AL fixed both problems with the Mariner-Blue Jay expansion of 1977.
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Old 02-11-2020, 05:38 AM
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WEll, sure, okay.
Thank you! The Wiki article (which I had already read) was factual and informative. Your explanation was factual and informative, but also entertaining!
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Old 02-11-2020, 05:55 AM
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Dodgers did not really want to go to LA , they wanted a better stadium in Brooklyn. NYC said they would build a stadium in Queens but Dodgers said no and off they went to LA. the people in LA who made a bid for the team to move were shocked Dodgers agreed to move. Giants went to SF same year so that teams making the trip west could play 2 teams.
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