By Walker Polivka, Contributing Writer
The PGA Tour recently announced their new schedule for the 2018-19 season. The new schedule involves several major changes to the schedule, including the addition of two new tournaments, the removal of a playoff event, moving The Players Championship from May back to March, and moving The PGA Championship from August to May.
The new season will wrap up around Labor Day, which has been something the PGA Tour has long sought to do so they wouldn’t have to compete with the NFL for ratings during the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
This recent revamp of the schedule got me thinking about what other sports could do to improve their schedules. I’ve listed below five changes to other professional sports’ schedules that would improve their schedules considerably and make things more enjoyable for the fans.
One of my more radical changes is for the NFL schedule. My thought is to get rid of the pre-season completely and turn those four games into regular season games with an additional bye-week added in. Those four games bring you up to 20 games in 22 weeks, plus the post-season.
This might drive up the risk of injury, but this would put a premium on who has more depth on their team. Revenues go up and bring in more money, plus fans get more games. The season still raps up at the same time and everyone involved has a reason to be happy.
One of my weirder changes comes to the NHL schedule. I’d leave the regular season as it is, but I’d tweak the post-season. I would change the first round of the playoffs to a round robin style, where each team plays each of the other three playoff teams in its division once. The team who does the best in that division moves on. This cuts down on the amount of time it takes to play each series.
After that, the winners of each division play each other to win their conference and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Finals would stay as a seven-game series. This way, the season wraps up a little earlier and you still get to see the best teams face off against each other.
I’ve always been a big NASCAR fan. However, there isn’t enough variety in the types of tracks they race on. The tracks are great, but they race on too many of the same length. There are eleven races during the season on one and one-half mile tracks, which comes out to just under a third of the races. You want to see these drivers race on a variety of different track styles.
There are no street races in any of NASCAR’s three major series. The truck series is the only series to race on a dirt track. Plus, NASCAR races on certain tracks multiple times each season. By limiting each track to one race per year and adding a few new tracks in, the season gets shortened by several weeks.
This might disappoint some fans, but if there is a better variety of tracks that give more drivers an opportunity to win, then I could live with a shorter season.
Another change I’d make is to the NBA playoffs. Personally, I think too many teams make the playoffs. Each year, 16 of the 30 teams get in. Several years, teams with losing records have gotten in. Usually, there are only four or five teams that have a legitimate chance of winning the title while the rest are just there for the ride.
Therefore, I’d cut the playoffs in half. Each of the division winners get in, plus the team who had the best record in each conference without winning their division. All of the series would remain seven games. One versus four and two versus three match-up for the first round.
The winners then play each other and then that winner makes the finals. It cuts down on the amount of games that have to be played for no reason and trims down the season by a few weeks.
Lastly, I’d like to see Major League Baseball shorten their schedule. This change has been long overdue; 162 games is plenty enough to decide who the best teams in the League are.
Playing three and four games in a row against the same team has also run its course as well. I have two options to solve the baseball conundrum. Shortening the schedule to 82 games like the NBA and NHL uses for their schedule would easily prove who the best teams are.
The other option would be if each team plays one series against the other teams for the season. Playing 29 teams for a three-game series each means one team would play 87 games. That is enough to determine who the best is.
Leave the playoffs as they are, put the All-Star break halfway through the season, and the season wraps up in August rather than in October. When too many sports overlap, it becomes an issue. This would help things along considerably.
I’m a bit of dreamer. Most sports enthusiasts who see changes like this typically are set in their ways and like things to remain the same. I feel that change is necessary to improve things for the viewer. These ideas might be me blowing smoke, but I think these changes could revolutionize the way we view sports. We shall see in the future what lies ahead for the schedule.
Photo Credit: Walker Polivka