Champions League Finals, and other sporting finals

I’m a Juventus fan, so my team got beaten by the better team in the Champions League final.  Which is an odd feeling for a fan.  Because it’s not the worst way to lose, it’s not hated rivals, flukey 90th minute goal or anything like that.  But still, it’s aggravating to have to sit their going ‘fair enough, the better team won’.

Because you think back to all those moments, particularly that moment after Morata had equalised and Pogba made that run and got chopped down by a Barcelona player in the box, and that should have been a penalty.  And if the penalty had gone in …

But that’s the nature of being a sports fan, you hang on what could have beens.

However, this line of thinking lead to another thought:-

I may be a Juventus fan, but I am also a football fan, and I think it was probably a fairly good match to watch.  It had flow and stuff.  But a neutral would probably have said that Barcelona were the better team and that they were the more deserved winners.  Now I, for obvious reasons, wouldn’t minded a sneaky Juventus victory.  They’d beaten better teams on the way to the final.

I was reminded of a conversation I’d had with @JTBourne on Twitter (if you like sport, follow him, he writes for theScore and is very funny about a wide range of sports).

It was about one of the semi-finals of the hockey playoffs (if they’re even called that).  There was good team vs less good team and people were saying that less good team were just not working hard enough and their only chance to win was to out-work the better team.  And the point being made that there were limits to what hard work can get you – which is not a popular position, because it obviously should, and we’ve had it drummed into our heads for years that it will – and that sometimes, you just come up against a better team.

And, and this is what set me to thinking, that less good team had even less of a chance, because it was best of seven, and you can out work a team for one match and get lucky at the other end to score, but it’s very hard to do that for seven matches in a row.

So I got to wondering.  Why do some sports have best of seven deciders, and some have winner takes one, takes all deciders?

With some sports, you can see why, because of the physical effort and danger involved in playing the sport.  I’d say both rugbys and American football come under this heading.

Then you have the rest.

There are certain advantages to having best of x series.  You’re more or less guaranteed that the more skilled “better” team will win.  Freak overall results are unlikely.  Tension is maintained over a longer time (i.e. advertising $).

At the same time, there are advantages to one and done series – tension is focus on one night.  Advertisers only have one game to go for (again advertising $).  Each goal counts for more.

So I was discussing this friends, and one of them who is a baseball fan mentioned that in baseball, you need the extra games so you can play your full rotation.  Which was something I hadn’t even thought of, because, with the exception of the Tinker Man, most soccer football managers know who their first 11 + 5 are going to be, so there isn’t the same variety in the teams sent out to play.

I don’t think that football will ever change, nor do I want it to, but if it had been a North American sport, I don’t have a second’s doubt that it would have a best of 7 series final for the Champions League.

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