San Francisco 49ers vs. San Jose Sharks - Playoff Formats
Let’s talk a little football. I know this is a hockey blog but if you dig through the archives you’ll see that my love of football is why I’m a hockey fan. And it’s my blog so I can write whatever I want (no puppy videos).
For context I grew up watching the San Francisco 49ers starting back when they were 2-12 the first year after they hired Bill Walsh. For the next 17 years I watched them win 5 championships. But after recent years of futility and searching for a winner I found I sought out the San Jose Sharks.
The hardest thing about embracing hockey after years of a football-only lifestyle is adapting to the seven-game playoff format. ‘Pittpen’, a former contributor to The ‘Net, was also a football convert and echoed the same sentiment. I used to shun the best-of-seven series as a technique the ‘other’ sports used to generated revenue, that a true playoff is one where you either bring it or you go home. Pro football, college football and March Madness all use the one game format and because of such, I would argue, they generate the most fan excitement. The exception of course is the ‘Game 7’ scenario which, I again argue, is the same as just having on one game playoff.
I’m getting distracted.
The problem with converting from one game playoff to a best of seven is the emotional roller coaster. When you watch football the gratification is instant. If you win you celebrate, if you lose you begin to grieve and find closure. The thrill of victory is really high and the disappointment of losing is incredibly low. The emotional ‘swing’ spans a very wide chasm.
The first year I started watching hockey I took that emotional swing into the playoffs. It was an incredibly exhausting and frustrating experience because I would grieve as if my season was over if the Sharks lost a game, and I would be equally excited when they won. Back and forth, day in and day out. It was tough.
But after several years of San Jose Sharks playoff hockey I’ve managed to temper my emotions within the context of a seven game series. I’ve learned to enjoy the playoff atmosphere as part of the experience.
And now the 49ers are back. We’ve won just one playoff game and we’re just one win away from the Super Bowl…two wins away from a 6th Super Bowl championship. I’m not saying they’re as good as won it all, I’m just saying that I can’t wrap my head around just how close we are after just one playoff game. I now find myself UNDERESTIMATING the significance of each 49er playoff game. I even forgot that you don’t make plans on the weekends when the playoffs start. I had to listen to the 4th quarter of the 49ers game because I was driving to an event, and I’ll be in the car driving once again next Sunday because of previous plans.
Super Bowl Sunday is February 5th, I need to keep that date open if we beat the New York Football Giants…