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Making the Case: The Stanley Cup is the Best Championship Series in Sports

Television ratings will never dictate the importance or worthiness of anything for me. If you look at what ranks at the top of many TV ratings, you will find shows that leave you scratching your head as to how and why they are watched that much. We have moved in a direction with our viewing habits that they no longer can be considered as the sole viable means in which to judge the quality of something, including sports. Once this criterion has been eliminated, we can take an objective look at why the NHL’s Stanley Cup playoffs are the best in all of the North American sporting world.

World Series-MLB

You would think that a Cubs fan coming off a recent World Series win would say the World Series is the best championship. Maybe if it were thirty years ago, but today’s baseball game is way too slow. Despite the Cubs and Indians being two relatively fast-paced teams, the 2016 World Series has featured two of the longest games of the entire postseason, with each game featuring little offense and lasting only nine innings. The fact is, the length of Major League Baseball games has steadily escalated over the past decade, and despite their best efforts with new rules, games continue to average over 3 hours long. When you combine that with the fact that most World Series games start after 8 p.m. ET, you are well past the time in which most people will want to stay up unless one of their favorite teams is playing. In an age in which people are looking for more fast-paced activities, baseball is going in the opposite direction, and that seriously affects the way people look at the game that is often referred to as “America’s pastime.”

Super Bowl-NFL

[the_ad id=”384″]The biggest issue with the world’s most second watched event is the way in which the NFL treats the game. In the very game in which they crown the champion of their league, they change the rules and the very fabric of the game that is supposed to mean the most by increasing the amount of time at the half, just to accommodate some dopey halftime show. Professional football players are creatures of habit, which can make halftime at the Super Bowl feel pretty weird. A regular season halftime period might last 12 to 15 minutes. At the Super Bowl, because of the elaborate show that takes place on the field, that period can be more than twice as long. As my New York Giant friends will claim, that can affect what happens on the field. It has been documented that Giants Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride used that extra time to come up with a strategy to help take down the New England Patriots. The claim is that Gilbride prefers the extra time he gets during the Super Bowl, as he is able to fit in what feels like a leisurely 10-minute meeting with assistant coaches about what happened during the first halves of both games, and he doesn’t have to worry about “going at a dizzying pace trying to get everything that probably takes a good 20 minutes, 25 minutes, compressed in about five or six minutes.” Combine this fact with the obsession with its halftime show and commercials, the Super Bowl is coming close to being labeled as sports entertainment instead of an actual sporting event.

Basketball’s NBA Finals

This is a case in which the inmates are running the asylum. For the third year in a row, we have the Warriors playing the Cavaliers due mostly to a bunch of superstars deciding that they want to load a couple of teams up so they have a better chance at winning a championship. Sounds like a couple of recreational basketball leagues at our local YMCA. And don’t get me started on the “I’m going to give our superstars a night off because they play too much” garbage that went on during the regular season. Not a nice way to treat your fans. But that will happen when the players are in charge, and not the coaches or the people in the front office. This, coupled with other factors, has resulted in NBA ratings falling almost 45 percent in the past decade — way off the very high ratings the NBA enjoyed in the 1990s.

The Stanley Cup-NHL

The finals of the NHL’s championship does not have the issues that the three other leagues have for their championships. The game is still played the same way, in the same manner as it is the rest of the year. Even though the Pittsburgh Penguins are going for a repeat, the league welcomes the Nashville Predators as first-time participants. I will also offer the unscientifically proven notion that hockey players are the best athletes in all sports. It is my contention that if skill sets could be reversed, most NHL players could play the other three sports professionally. Outside of many NFL players, one cannot make the same case for most of the players in MLB and the NBA.  The athleticism and intestinal fortitude required to play this sport are unequaled anywhere on the planet.  The Stanley Cup may also have the best history associated with its championship. The history begins with Lord Stanley of Preston, who was appointed by Queen Victoria as Governor General of Canada on June 11, 1888, as he and his family became highly enthusiastic about ice hockey. Soon afterward, Stanley purchased what is frequently described as a decorative punch bowl, but which silver expert John Culme identified as a rose bowl, made in Sheffield, England, and sold by London silversmith G. R. Collis and Company (now Boodle and Dunthorne Jewellers). It had the words “Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup” engraved on one side of the outside rim, and “From Stanley of Preston” on the other side. In addition, the Stanley Cup is unlike the trophies awarded by the other major professional sports leagues of North America, as a new Stanley Cup is not made each year. Currently, winning teams get the Stanley Cup during the summer and a limited number of days during the season. It is unusual among trophies to include winning members’ names. Every year since 1924, a select portion of the winning players, coaches, management, and club staff names are engraved on its bands. In case you are wondering, as the bottom band becomes full, the oldest band is removed and preserved in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and a new blank band added to the bottom.

Even though the World Series and Super Bowl are still great events, it is this rich history, combined with the fact that the sport continues in its pure form throughout their entire regular season and playoffs, that makes the Stanley Cup the best of the major sports championships in this part of the world.



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