Sports is/are this big, goofy, fun contrivance that (from the non-participant’s standpoint) exist(s) solely for our entertainment. It’s not a referendum on us as a people or a culture or a species if the fourth- and fifth-place teams play for the championship of something. We’re not going to get blown to bits by aliens or al-Qaida if a non-first-place team wins the playoffs, or even if there are playoffs at all. Paul Gardner can watch the freaking games and enjoy them for what they are – 22 guys kicking a frigging ball, sometimes entertainingly – or he can ascribe huge cosmic significance to the identities of the participants and the process used to determine them. He’s chosen the latter course. He has that right, just like I have the right to tell him – and the other fanboys who can’t handle it emotionally when their team doesn’t get to call themselves right and true and just champions – to get the hell over it.