IN PRO SPORTS, IT’S LOSE NOW TO WIN LATER; COLLEGE TEAMS HAVE TO WIN NOW TO WIN LATER.
As the seasons change from College basketball to Baseball, I’m thinking that something is out of whack. Professional teams are losing on purpose, and somehow that’s become OK. The White Sox have become a prime example. After the worst season in years, not only are Sox fans OK with this path, interest is way up. It’s no longer even necessary to promise “wait until next year”; 3-5 years will do fine. The Sox certainly aren’t alone in this. Bulls fans now cheer every loss. Bears fans were fine punting last season three games in, because we were seeing the quarterback of tomorrow. Even the Blackhawks and their fans took the end of their streak of consecutive seasons in the playoffs with a big shrug (it’s a youth movement.) Of the five major-sport professional teams in Chicago, only the Cubs made every effort to win over the past season. How ironic. But that’s how it is in pro sports – you get better players by losing.
In college, you get better players by winning. Next fall, the nation’s top recruit will be going to Duke. The second rated recruit will also be going to Duke. #3 – also Duke. Teams that win all the time just keep getting more players and keep winning. Teams that haven’t won in a while aren’t going to win for a while longer. Why has Loyola’s run has amazed us to this degree? Because it’s so hard to rise in college basketball – and because it’s so rare.
So as this baseball season begins, nearly half of the major league teams will be making no serious effort to reach the playoffs this year. In college basketball, every Division 1 team would dearly love to make next year’s NCAA tournament, but nearly half of them know that they have no chance. Something is wrong with this picture.