Friday, April 17, 2015

Sports City Futility

John B. Marine | 4/17/2015 01:35:00 AM | | | |
Some sports cities have great athletes and great teams, yet fail to parlay that success into championships. Houston- my hometown- is one of several poor sports cities. It is consistently among the poorest sports cities in America. It is almost as if no matter how much you try to root on a team to win it all or go very far, they always seem to fall short. So most people would just feel like rooting on certain teams/athletes is just a lost cause because failure is inevitable. And in the case of sports cities, it is even more depressing when various teams representing a certain city or region just can't seem to win.

This blog post mostly concerns futility among sports cities and even futility among certain athletes and teams. So while this is about sports cities, this also pertains to individual athletes and teams.

--- Sports City Futility ---

Don't you hate it when your favorite team(s) of a certain city or such consistently fail? This post is for you. Let's go through some talking points.

Sports City Futility: The Woes of a Sports Fan.

Okay. Many of you know I was born and raised here in Houston. I love my Houston teams and athletes. I am a fan of teams like the Houston Texans, the Houston Rockets, the Houston Astros, the Houston Dynamo, the University of Houston athletics (sorry Rice!), and I sometimes root on Texas Southern University even though I make fun of them constantly. I even at times root on Sam Houston State University. What damage have these teams done in championship play? Well, as of the date of this initial typing of this post (April 16, 2015):

• The Houston Texans made the NFL Playoffs two straight years, failing to advance to the AFC Championship game. Their first Playoff appearance was in 2011 when they won the AFC South. They'd return in 2012 to the Playoffs. Both times, coincidentally, against the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Wild Card game.

• The Houston Rockets have had great seasons, but the best ones were the two championship times- the 1993-1994 Houston Rockets and 1994-1995 Houston Rockets. Those were the good old Clutch City days. Since then? Playoff appearances... but never even making the NBA Finals since. Closest they came to the NBA Finals again was when the 1995-1996 Houston Rockets were defeated by the Utah Jazz and eliminated from the NBA Playoffs that season. The Rockets have never advanced past the first round since the 2008-2009 Houston Rockets did so.

• No one had the Houston Astros make the World Series in 2005. Many Astros have helped lift the franchise to prominence over the years- Alvin's own Nolan Ryan, Jose Lima, Joe Nierko, Craig Biggio, Lance Berkman, and Jeff Bagwell among many others. Only once have the Houston Astros won 100 or more games, and that was the 1998 Houston Astros. The 2005 World Series was the farthest the Astros have EVER advanced in franchise history. Not only did the Astros not win the World Series, they lost every game in a sweep to the Chicago White Sox. That even included that marathon of a World Series game here in Houston that went from about 7:00 PM on one day to 2:00 AM the next day! Even worse about all of this? The Houston Astros have NEVER made the playoffs since the improbable 2005 World Series run.

• The Houston Dynamo won two league championships in Major League Soccer in their first two years. Since then? Lots of conference championships and postseason appearances... but no more titles since. It was getting so tiresome to see the Dynamo take on the Los Angeles Galaxy year after year, and fail to beat them time and time again. I would at least think a team like the Houston Dynamo would have more titles in Major League Soccer than what they really have. Almost as if the Dynamo are stuck on two titles when they probably could have many more championships. They just haven't won the Major League Soccer championship ever since, sadly...

• My biggest gripe as a University of Houston fan is to keep having to hear of "Phi Slamma Jamma" losing the National Championship twice. I have to keep hearing of North Carolina State beating my beloved Cougars in 1983 and even Georgetown beating UH in 1984. I do wish there was a time where the University of Houston can emerge, especially in the bigger sports.

Is Houston the only miserable sports city? Not at all. Other cities commonly in this funk include Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Cleveland among others. Something is to be said about having great teams and having great seasons, but never accomplishing the task of becoming champions of a league or winners of major events.

Sports City Futility: The "Can't Win" Mentality.

What do I mean about can't win places? Think about having a great team with great players... yet never coming together to become champions. Think of some of those same players playing for different teams and accomplishing what they couldn't do when playing for a certain team. Does this sound familiar to some of you? Here is a popular example- remember when a younger LeBron James played for Cleveland but could never win a championship, then he famously/notoriously decides to "take his talents to South Beach" and win NBA Championships with the Miami Heat? I was disgusted as a Houston Texans fan to see players like Jacoby Jones play hard for my beloved Texans... but never be part of a Super Bowl winning team until he joined the Baltimore Ravens. Recently, the great Andre Johnson went from the Houston Texans to play for the Indianapolis Colts. Maybe a sad Houston Rockets example was when the Rockets traded Robert Horry back in the 1990s. What did Horry do since? All Horry would do is win championships... for teams OTHER than the Houston Rockets. If you want an example of where the best teams and players just doesn't result in a championship, many people look to the tandem of John Stockton and Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz- nearly 20 years together, never winning the NBA championship.

As a Houston sports fan, it pains me to constantly feel like my favorite athletes and teams somehow are incapable of winning in certain cities and for certain teams. It is this sort of "can't win in Houston mentality" that has me disappointed. It is as if we are constantly coming up short or failing to ever emerge as champions. Or in some cases, having enough to be contenders, but not enough to be champions. Almost as if we should never be champions of any sport because... we are incapable of being champs. When many different teams from a different city or region have this sort of mentality or curse, things begin to feel depressing that you just can't seem to win championships in any sport. It depresses you as a sports fan.

The point of sporting competitions is to play hard enough to become champion. Some reach the top of the mountain; some others fail to. It gets frustrating when it seems like there is a force field or an invisible wall that disallows you from becoming the top team or the top athlete of a sport. When you can't seem to win, the "can't win..." mentality latches onto you and prevents you from becoming the best.

Sports Championship Futility Among Teams/Athletes.

Individual athletes and teams are also quite notorious for having extremely long droughts of championships. Some even wish they could become champs again. Here are some examples to prove the point.

• Most famously in American sports is the Chicago Cubs' championship drought. Cubs fans have had to go through the same old song and dance of not winning the World Series since their triumph back in 1907 and 1908.

• The Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, but that championship was the first championship for the franchise since 1918. The Red Sox would win two more titles since 2004 by winning in 2007 and 2013.

• In Australian Rules Football, there was a long drought as when the Sydney Swans last won the Australian Rules Football championship. They won the championship in 2005 after not having won the league championship since 1933. The Swans won only one other time since 2005 when they won the title in 2012.

I included this section to show that teams and cities can have long periods of not becoming champions, yet still have a chance to become champion. Winning it all a long time ago doesn't mean a team can no longer become champion again.

--- Sports City Futility: Final Thoughts ---

No matter what team(s) you love, no matter who your favorite athletes are, you want your beloved athletes and teams to win. When they can't seem to win, it feels like a continual struggle to become champion. Your unrelenting love for a sports team keeps you interested. However, and especially involving multiple teams representing one city or region, you hate it when all the hard work of teams you love go for nothing. You still love your team(s) because you want the team to succeed. The only problem is when it seems like certain sports teams from certain cities just can't seem to win no matter how great they are. That happens in sports. You just wish teams can stop failing and win more championships than they have at present.

Never stop rooting for your favorite teams and athletes. Never stop caring for your beloved teams. Some teams and athletes go through funks before finally emerging. Winning championships isn't inevitable, but it isn't impossible either. True fans stick to their teams and athletes no matter how rough things get. I am no fair weather fan. I remember the two seasons my Houston Texans finished 2-14. I remember when my Houston Astros won only 55 games, then only winning 53 the following season, then winning only 51 games in their American League debut. I stood by my teams despite the brutal records. I also hate that Houston teams and Houston-area teams consistently failed on the national stage and in championship events and tournaments. Yet still, you never give up hope.

In Case You Are Wondering...

Is this post mostly a cry and a release of my favorite team(s) woes? You [expletive] right!!! You'd feel the same way too if your team(s) can't seem to become champions or be better than what they eventually show. But of course, this post applies to others who feel the same way about certain teams falling short of championship glory consistently.

That's it for this post. I hope you sports fans enjoyed it and can relate to many of the different things I discussed. Let me know what you think about the issues discussed here.
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QUYNH said...

I'm still hopeful that one of our teams will win the championship soon! All this time I DID not know you live in Houston! :)

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