One of the most distinctive differences between team sports in Europe and
North America is the institution of promotion and relegation. This paper looks
into the history of why this institution developed in Europe but not North
America, and considers what effects it may have on the competitive balance of the leagues. While dominance of the leagues by a small number of wealthy teams
is a more severe problem in Europe, its effects are mitigated by the opportunity
for new teams to enter from below and the excitement generated by the struggle
for survival among the weaker teams.