In my on-again, off-again following of the World Cup this year, I’ve been wondering why the tournament has a third place game.
The NFL doesn’t have consolation game. Neither does Major League Baseball. Ditto for the NBA and NHL. The NCAA basketball tournament used to until 1981 when someone wised up and realized that third place games are pointless. I thought it might be a soccer thing but after doing some research I realized that Major League Soccer doesn’t have a third place game either.
From a player’s perspective, I’d think the third place game would be an emotional letdown. You came this close to making it to the biggest game of your life and didn’t do it. Now you have to run around on a field for 90 minutes with a bunch of other people who, like you, also didn’t make it to the big one. What, exactly, are you playing for?
From a fan’s point of view, I’d personally have a hard time rooting for any of my favorite sports teams in a consolation game. You don’t root for your team because you want them to be number three. You want them to be champions so you can beat your chest and brag to everyone about how awesome your team is.
In sports, you’re either a champion or you’re not. It’s that simple.
If anyone can tell me why the World Cup third place game is a big deal (KS, maybe?), let me know. And for those who think the World Cup consolation games serve a purpose, how many of you can tell me who won the third place game in the 1994 World Cup without the help of Google or some other search engine? (As a hint, the winner, loser, and score of that game is probably the only World Cup game I know off the top of my head.)