Friday, August 28, 2009

I don't get it.

I don't get golf and tennis. How come they are the only two sports with "majors"? Every other sport has a championship of some kind. Whether it be a Super Bowl or a Stanley Cup or a Larry O'Brien trophy or what have you. Even NASCAR, if you want to call that a "sport", has points and standings and crowns a champion. (Although, I suppose that technically that sport has "majors" as well, like the Daytona 500 and such.) I was thinking about this when going down the prize list for the World of Sports. Which is a pretty cool prize list.

But then I thought really, what makes the US Open more prestigious than any other golf tournament? Or the Masters or the British or whatever. You don't win more money for that tournament. There are other, richer tournaments on the tour, and usually the top golfers in the world are measured by money won. There is this FedEx cup thing going on now which should be a bigger, more prestigious event than any major, shouldn't it? There is more money involved...there is actually a playoff of sorts...an overall champion is crowned. Then again, the rules of this FedEx thing are so strange and they change so often that I imagine it's tough for the whole thing to cut through and gain purchase with fans.

I tried to research the four majors in golf and in tennis, because I wanted to find out when, and why, people decided that they were more important than the other tournaments. I couldn't find an answer. It seems as though it's just always been that way. Something about Arnold Palmer declaring it so in the 60s or something too. I don't know. Even if these are the longest-running tournaments in golf, that still doesn't explain it. Is it really prestige alone? In that case golf is even more snooty than I thought. And I already thought it was plenty snooty.

I would like to see this ethos played out over other sports. Like, in hockey. From now on, if you beat one of the original six teams (Chicago, Boston, Detroit, New York, Montreal, Toronto), you get double the points for the win. Each of those Original Six teams will start the season with eleven points of their own, to make up for the fact that they can't play themselves during the season, and schedules will be balanced to make sure every other team plays an equal number of games against those six. Or in the NFL, we will arbitrarily designate four franchises...say, Green Bay, Dallas, Chicago and Pittsburgh to be the "elite" teams with the deepest history, and the same will go for them. Maybe this way, the Leafs can win a Stanley Cup. And the Cowboys can go back to a Super Bowl. But I'll still root against both.

The sad fact is, that even if Tiger Woods wins the FedEx thing, however one goes about "winning" it, whatever it is, and he gets the $10 million, and he is far and away the top money-earner and top tournament-winner on the tour this year, his season will still be looked at as an abject failure. He didn't win a major! Not ONE! And he needs those to catch Nicklaus or he will forever be the second-best golfer ever! Roger Federer is the greatest tennis player of all time because he won so many majors. Is the tennis really better in those tournaments? Are they really tougher to win? Does the Tennis Federation bring in lookalike cyborgs for first round matchups to make things more difficult? Or are they just regular, everyday tournaments whose highlights end up more often on Sportscentre?

With my new scoring system, I have to say that last year's Pittsburgh Penguins had an abject failure of a season. Sure, they may have had a 5-4 record agains the Red Wings, including their two regular season games, but against the Leafs they were 1-3, the Rangers 3-3, the Bruins 1-2, the Habs 2-2, and the Blackhawks 1-0. So they lost two, won two and tied two of the series they played against the Original Six. Hardly a banner year, they barely broke even in the majors.

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