With each week's passing for soccer and football, the excitement builds to a crescendo until a champion emerges, regardless if its the winner of the Super Bowl (NFL) or a 30+ game marathon of a season (i.e. English Premier League).
Each season, top teams' fans in either football or soccer, fans cheer their clubs to the end. New England Patriots fans experienced nothing but good times during the 21st century. For of the Big-Four in England (Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal), happiness dominates.
For fans of the Detroit Lions or Oakland Raiders, what about them? Or the fans of Fulham, Wigan and West Ham United in the EPL? Do these fans have anything to cheer for? Soccer fans cheer to the very end for their clubs.
In America, we know only of one football league worth anyone's dime. Relegation doesn't happen for a team like the Oakland Raiders. Plus, no team from Sacramento, Omaha, or some other outpost can take their place with the elite teams of the NFL. So, what's a fan to do?
Without relegation, a bad NFL team really plays for nothing. With a 1-5 record to start a season, players start to think about vacation. The players suddenly have no interest and the fans just go along for the ride (taken for a ride by the owners anyway, especially Al Davis) almost rooting for the season to get worse so they qualify for the top choice in the draft (who may, or may not sign, i.e. JaMarcus Russell, good choice).
In most European soccer leagues, the bad teams (usually the last 3 teams) drop a division level, the equivalent of the minor leagues. In turn, the leagues moves the same number of teams from those minor leagues. For the bad teams (Fulham, West Ham United and the like), although they struggle for position with no hopes of winning the title, the fans root just as hard for their clubs as if they sat in first place. Anything lower than a 17th place finish would be cause for being sent to the "minors."
Suddenly, a game featuring the 18th and 17th placed teams means a lot for the players and fans. The ensuing result usually decides each team's fate for next season.
For the Raiders and Lions, the matchup yields few possibilities or excitement. The games becomes meaningless as the worst teams go head to head with each other.
In the 1990’s, before parity, the NFL could’ve easily been setup in such a way. The NFC dominated those years. People laughed at the Super Bowl. Typically, the NFC Championship game was the best game of the postseason leaving fans of the Super Bowl to beg for more and better commercials because that 55-10 rout drew yawns.
In this theoretical NFL, most teams' fans would root for something meaningful all season long. Interest would've been high for the 14th placed team as they played to keep in the top league (the NFC), instead of just playing out the stream and boosting some joker's fantasy stats.
It could've worked for the NFL then, and could work now. Suddenly there's something to cheer about in Miami.