Burning Up the Track No Matter the Division

    The 100-meter time is the third best in Division II this year, and is only .05 short of being one of the top 10 fastest ever in D-II. Her 200-meter time is also third best in D-II this year. Most impressively, both times would be among the 50 fastest recorded this year among Division-I athletes.

    Fogarty isn’t alone, however; Nick Howe in the javelin throw and Danielle Thu in the hammer throw both have marks that would be among the top 50 in Division I this year.

    These comparisons aren’t particularly fair or useful, as when it comes down to the conference and national meets, UCSD athletes won’t have to face anyone from the likes of Texas A&M or Florida. Nevertheless, part of  the beauty of track and field is that it allows comparison among athletes anywhere. The 400-meter oval is the same length on a high school track as it is in the Olympics. Of course, conditions and competition are always important, but it’s interesting to put the marks and times of top Triton athletes in perspective, instead of just a series of numbers on a results sheet.

    Make the Bad Teams Keep Fighting

    The NBA and NHL playoffs are just starting, and fans can now enjoy what each league has to offer. But for some fans, the end of the regular season signifies an end to their misery. The Minnesota Timberwolves went 17-65, losing their last 15 games to edge out the Cleveland Cavaliers for worst record in the NBA (the LeBron-less Cavs won 18 games). The NHL was a little more competitive, with its worst team — the Edmonton Oilers — going 25-45-12 overall.

    But for these teams and several others near the bottom, the season was well over by the time they played half their games, and there was nothing left to fight for except  pride. Sure, teams like the Clippers can salivate over their future with Blake Griffin, but moral victories and players with potential won’t attract the casual fan.

    In nearly every soccer league around the world, a system of promotion and relegation is used. In England, for example, there are 20 teams in the top league, called the English Premier League. But there are over 140 leagues with more than 7,000 clubs total (of which only a small fraction are professional), and there is the potential for even the smallest club to rise to the top over time. At the end of every season, the worst three teams from each league are relegated into the league below, and the top three teams from the league below are promoted.  In this manner, the teams in each league vary from year to year.

    One effect of this system is that the Premier League is often exciting until the last day of the season. The bad teams, such as Stoke City or West Ham United — the club of “Green Street Hooligans” fame — that have no chance of winning the title are forced to play their hearts out to ensure their survival. The financial consequences of falling out of the Prem are dire — $50 million or more — and can cause the owners to release or sell the best players. The race to avoid relegation is often more exciting than the title chase, and every game is important until safety is guaranteed. Even casual fans will tune in to see a game between two bottom-of-the-league teams when each is in a do-or-die situation. Next to nobody would watch a Cavs vs. Timberwolves train wreck in the final weeks of the NBA season.

    There are obvious negative consequences of this system as well, as some teams bounce back and forth between leagues and constantly face different financial prospects. This system also does not have playoffs — the team with the most points at the end of the season is named champion — which is certainly not something I would be willing to give up.

    Nevertheless, the thought of the Cavs players fighting as hard as they can to avoid the embarrassment of being relegated to the D-League is intriguing. In the land of guaranteed contracts, giving every team something to play for would be great for fans.

    Of course, this wouldn’t be realistic, as there simply isn’t enough talent to support it. A D-League team or minor league hockey team could never compete in the top league. In the long run, it destroys parity and ensures only a few teams can win a title in a generation. But it does make for a wild ride every season, and there certainly aren’t players on the bench in street clothes or halfhearted efforts as the season winds down.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal