It’s that time of year when both basketball and hockey take over millions of viewers lives as they watch the best of the best duke it out for supremacy.

What’s so desirable about playoffs? Plenty. It’s the best players on the best teams, higher quality competition, more intensity, and higher stakes  (particularly related to the fear of failure, since you’re pitting together a bunch of people who hate losing as much as they love winning).

But really, there is something bigger at work here. Human nature is to classify and organize things, and in sports we categorize “greatness” based not on raw talent or points scored, but on an ability to win on the biggest stage when everything is on the line. Unbelievable talent and lifetimes of hard work have gone unrecognized in the record books because of an inability to win championships.

Which maybe says more about us than it does about playoffs.