Dynasties are terrible for sports, that is unless you are a fan of one of those dynasties.
If you don’t believe it look at social media during the UMBC upset over Virginia in relation to when the New England Patriots played in their eighth Super Bowl in the past 17 years back in February. The ratings for this year’s Super Bowl were at an all-time low simply because fans are tired of the repetition.
Better yet, how about the debate that is still being had today regarding if the University of Central Florida Knights deserved a shot at the College Football National Championship after their undefeated season. This is the same UCF team that didn’t win a single game just two seasons ago. That type of parity in professional sports is rarely, if ever seen.
New year, same story
It is very expected that the 2018 NBA Finals will be Golden State Warriors against the Cleveland Cavaliers….for the fourth year in a row. In all honesty, the past three Finals matchups have been entertaining and historic in their own way, but we’ve seen the story before and the only people who may be truly interested in the NBA Finals are fans of those respective teams.
What UMBC provided for us, in what is being regarded as the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history, is something that we don’t get in professional sports. It’s always said in sports that anyone can win on any given day, the whole “Any Given Sunday” mantra, but it’s very rare that we get that in professional sports. From the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl every year to the aforementioned NBA Finals matchup. Let’s not even discuss the New York Yankees that spent this off-season assembling quite possibly the most lethal batting lineup in history.
In college, we live for the upsets every March. We debate from every September to every January who the best team is in football from week to week based on the results of that Saturday’s games; but in professional sports, mainly the NFL and NBA, year in and year out we know to expect the Patriots, and whatever team LeBron James is on to be playing for championships at the end of the season.
The passion and the drive
College athletes play with the most passion and love for the game we will ever witness. They play their sport, whether its basketball, football, baseball, or whatever else, because they love and have a passion for the game. Don’t get me wrong, keeping the full-ride scholarship drags some influence into the equation, as well as making it to the league in the era of the “one and done” player, but it’s not the majority. Playing in front of their peers, classmates, and passionate fans is what drives them. Most college athletes know that this is the highest level they will ever play the game. You see it in the excitement and joy in the players that participate in March Madness every year.
Once athletes make to the professional level of their sport, where does the motivation come from? They’ve made it to the highest level possible, they’ve gotten their money. The most passionate time you’ll see a professional athlete perform is during a contract season when they are working to obtain a lucrative contract over the next few years.
The UMBC Retrievers and Buffalo Bulls provided the moments that fan’s live for every March during the NCAA Tournament. During the UMBC/UVA game it got to the point where fans were rooting for the upset in sacrifice for their bracket predictions. It truly doesn’t get any better than that.
If the Warriors and Cavs do in fact meet for the fourth time in a row this June, we will all watch and mostly enjoy the series, but the excitement throughout the series will pale in comparison to the history we got to witness on Friday March 16, 2018.
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)