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This Is What Promotion And Relegation Would Look Like In American Sports

Every season brings a new sense of hope and fear for fans across the world. For some supporters and teams, the quest to be promoted to the top flight of football is the main goal. For others, the fear of getting relegated to a lesser league looms. 

As an American sports fan who loves the beautiful game and also works for, this got me thinking: Promotion and relegation is a system that is at the core of almost every soccer league around the world. Sure, how it works varies widely from country to country, but it exists everywhere. Except America. Promotion and relegation in American sports is just not a thing. So, I asked what promotion and relegation would look like if implemented in America’s biggest leagues: namely the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB.

Before we get started, let's go through how I constructed each league because, as you'll see, this promotion and relegation business can lead you down a dark, dark worm hole.

Promotion And Relegation In American Sports – The Ground Rules

Rule #1. Let’s get this out of the way. The NFL is the only league out of the major four that doesn’t have a minor league or developmental system. The closest thing is NCAA college football. It’s the next best product and let's be honest, no one is talking about the philosophical question of the Calgary Stampeders or the Winnipeg Blue Bombers coming up against the Cleveland Browns. Canada, you’re doing great stuff up there, but the tribe has spoken.

Rule #2. Forget about the issue of pay for college athletes, kids leaving school early and that whole can of worms. This is for fun, so go away NCAA regulations guy. 

Rule #3. The system I implemented for the NBA, NHL and MLB will be odd to some non-soccer fans, but we think it’s the best and most fair. We've copied the English Championship (beneath the Premier League) model. As a result, we have completely eliminated the playoffs in the D-League (NBA Developmental League), AHL (Minor League Hockey) and Minor League Baseball (AAA). Like in soccer, I'll simply go off record. The reason for this is simple: I want the best teams to get promoted to the big leagues. The little eight-seed that could and did make a miraculous run is a waste of time and money. And that’s all this is about, imaginary money. Lots and lots of it. (After all, relegation costs teams more than $50 million.)

Rule #4. Don’t worry about the conferences and divisions. Like any top flight league around the world, as long as you are in the country you’ll be eligible for promotion.

Rule #5. Professional teams with affiliate teams in the minors will also be thrown out the door. This makes for the magic: If Accrington Stanley can go toe-to-toe with Manchester United, then the Yankees can come up against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders.

Let's get this show on the road!


Promotion And Relegation In The No-Fun League, er, We Mean, NFL

Promotion And Relegation In American Sports – NFL Promotion And Relegation 2016

Promotion And Relegation In American Sports Based On The 2016/17 NFL and NCAA Football Season

As mentioned above, I went with NCAA football as the league feeding into the NFL. This system works as any college football season would work. The playoff commences and then after the playoff the committee releases their final top three rankings for who will be promoted to the NFL.

I'm not going to go back to the BCS system. The Boise and San Diego States of the world who go close to perfect every year aren’t going to bypass Alabama, who lost in the championship. The rankings above are based off the 2016 final AP poll. Bye bye Cleveland, hello Alabama.

Promotion And Relegation In The NBA

NBA Promotion/Relegation 2016/17

Promotion And Relegation In American Sports Based On The 2016/2017 NBA and D-League Season

Promotion to the NBA is the same system the Championship teams use to reach the Premier League. The two teams with the best records (in this case the Raptors 905 and OKC Blue) will automatically be promoted to the NBA. Then the next four teams with the best records will compete in a playoff. The team that wins the playoff will round out the three teams that move up to the NBA.

Oh, baby. Can you imagine the Lakers getting bumped to the D-League?! Kobe would come out of retirement so he could put up 60 a night in the D-League. And how about those Fort Wayne Mad Ants? That’s definitely the go-to bandwagon team. Check out that logo, though!

Could you imagine if the NBA playoffs were going on at the same time as the D-League playoffs? The D-League playoffs would be just as chaotic and entertaining with some of the best hoopers in the world fighting for a spot in the NBA. Hey Adam Silver, advertisers, anyone with deep pockets. This means more money and more TV deals.


Promotion And Relegation In The NHL

Promotion And Relegation In American Sports – NHL PromotionAnd Relegation 2016/17

Promotion And Relegation In American Sports Based On The 2016/2017 NHL and AHL Season

The NHL playoffs are already insane.

Why not throw the AHL Promotion Playoffs into the mix? My money is on the Hershey Bears. But the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins would be a good fit in the NHL. Our staff writer Connor Fleming says he knows some people in Scranton who go to Penguins games, and they say they’re lit. So we believe him.

Promotion And Relegation In The MLB

Promotion And Relegation In American Sports – MLB Promotion And Relegation 2016

Promotion And Relegation In American Sports Based On The 2016 MLB and AAA Season

Triple A baseball has three leagues: the International league, the Pacific Coast League and the Mexican League. But only the International and the Pacific Coast are made of up MLB affiliates. Sure, we could have just had the second best teams from both leagues battle it out for the last spot, but having an MLB team in Mexico would be sweet. So, instead of excluding the Mexican league, we figured the teams with the best records from all three leagues should move up to MLB. Here we go Leones de Yucatan!


Promotion And Relegation In American Sports: It Won't Happen, But It Would Be Fun

There you have it. Not only is it fun to see what promotion and relegation in American sports would look like, but hopefully it gave you a look into what a lot of fans around the world deal with every year. Just imagine if your beloved San Diego Padres or Chicago Bears got demoted to a league that wasn’t the biggest and didn't have regular TV coverage. 

Obviously promotion and relegation isn't likely to happen in American sports. It’s just not how we operate — the owners wouldn't stand for it at this point. But you have to admit, it sure would light a fire under the asses of the bottom dwellers of the leagues.

More importantly, if you would like to contribute to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants getting their shot in the NBA, please sign this petition.

Let's start a conversation on twitter. Follow me @bbadss and follow @the18com.

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