Give DC sports teams another chance
Chad, Opinion Editor
March 18, 2011
Filed under Commentary
As a native Arlingtonian who has observed many alternative ways of life, both in different states like Florida and in different countries like Belize or Costa Rica, I am of the opinion that we have it pretty good here in Northern Virginia. We have a high standard of living, public and private transportation, some sumptuous restaurants and many other luxuries just a short walk away.
Yet it is all too easy to take them for granted, particularly in a recession that just will not quit. But I am going to take a comprehensive look at just what makes Arlington great, so we are fully aware of our blessings. I will start with something that seems counterintuitive: our terrible sports franchises.
Currently, there are five men’s professional athletic organizations in this city with established fan bases: the Redskins, the Wizards, D.C. United, the Capitals and the Nationals. Plus we have the Kastles, a professional tennis team. Unfortunately, for the past few years the majority of them have fared poorly in national competition.
The Redskins have only won three playoff games in six appearances, and have had eight different head coaches since 1993.
The Wizards endured two long and demoralizing seasons from 2008 to 2010, where they also went through multiple new coaches and had key players such as Gilbert Arenas get into legal trouble. John Wall gave them new hope, but their record is still 67-157 so far.
D.C. United, in what seems to be a pattern, has had three different head coaches since 2008, and has not qualified for the last three MLS Cup playoffs. Last season the team was so incompetent that it ended up at the bottom of the conference standings with six wins and 20 losses. They acquired a few promising players in the offseason, and have won several preseason games, but that does not mean they are immune to slipping up.
And the list goes on. Even the high-powered Capitals, led by powerhouse players like Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom, will have successful regular seasons and then get eliminated early in the playoffs, despite all effort to the contrary.
This presents something of a dilemma to loyal sports fans in the area: is it worth it anymore to get one’s hopes up rooting for these teams, when it is very possible that they will stumble and mess up? Heck, maybe we should just root for Baltimore’s teams. That way heartbreak is not guaranteed.
To me, that is not the right answer. So our men’s sports teams do not have the firepower to be playoff contenders right now. So the head coaches change almost every season. So our star players cannot carry the entire squad on their backs. This is the reality.
I say we deal with it and lower our expectations to a more reasonable level. From now on, let us just hope Washington beats the Cowboys or the Cavaliers or the Penguins, and if they do by some miracle, let’s revel in it!
Here is something else to consider: we are not the first city to go through such a prolonged drought of athletic achievement. The city of New Orleans, Louisiana does not have quite as many major sports franchises as Washington, but it still supports football, basketball and minor league baseball groups. At one point, the Saints were so bad, humorists in the city renamed them the Aints. Nevertheless, the became a force to be reckoned with in 2006 when they reached the NFC championship and a few years later, in Superbowl XLIV, the Saints defeated the Colts and won 31-17. That title remains New Orleans’ only major national athletic title.
If it is good enough for the Big Easy, I believe it could be good enough for us.