CUGNON: Break up the bandLeave a Comment
Professional sports are wholly reliant on the presence of competitive drama. Last-second buzzer-beaters, tight overtime contests and high-octane quarterback battles have offered us some of our most cherished and intoxicating sports memories.
What makes these moments so exciting is the uncertainty of their outcomes. While it sounds a bit obvious to say, close games are simply more enjoyable. Bearing all of this in mind, you’ll not be surprised that I find the modern athletic trend of building “super teams” utterly detestable.
Outfits like the 2016 Golden State Warriors, the 2015 F.C. Barcelona squad and the 1993 Dallas Cowboys don’t make sports more fun by concentrating some of the biggest stars onto super-charged rosters; they remove the very uncertainty on which spectator sports rely.
There’s nothing inspiring about the fact that the Golden State Warriors are going to charge out onto the court this season with four of the best 15 players in the National Basketball Association. Sure, you might tune in come the finals to see if LeBron James or some other star might be able to knock them off their perch, but odds are that you’ll probably just switch on the news when the Warriors are tearing your team apart by 45 points in the third quarter.
Sports rely on competitive balance to keep things fun. The fact that only a handful of NBA teams realistically have any shot at winning a championship in any given season is already a bit boring, but it’s just depressing when one team’s triumph is essentially a foregone conclusion.
Like it or not, competition drives ratings, and there’s little point in watching if games or series aren’t competitive.
Frankly, super teams are only exciting to watch when they fail. Take Leicester City’s unexpected run to last season’s English Premier League title as an example. That championship charge was must-see television exclusively because the EPL’s usual championship suspects — Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and the like — seemed to be more interested in enjoying a season-long holiday than in actually winning a title.
It might sound a bit callous, but I care less about Leicester City than I care about watching big clubs fail. I care more about having the opportunity to watch a title race that is actually suspenseful and exciting. I’m a Chelsea fan, and even I don’t have fun watching them wrap the league up by December.
When teams like the Warriors win titles, it’s the sporting equivalent of the rich getting richer. It’s about as inspiring as Donald Trump turning a seven-figure loan from his father into an ego-fueled real estate empire. Nobody cares if you win when everything is already stacked in your favor.
Sure, super teams give us the opportunity for David-and-Goliath clashes where sometimes, every so often, the plucky little guy comes out on top. But those moments are, understandably, few and far between. So please enjoy Leicester City’s championship, everybody, because you may never see anything like it again.
I know this column is making me sound like a bit of a sports communist, but wouldn’t you prefer to watch a league where there’s a bit of parity or drama? I’m not advocating a redistribution of athletic wealth; I’d just rather not see teams like the 73–9 Warriors sign guys like former Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant, and I would really enjoy not having to watch dumpster fire clubs like the Philadelphia 76ers spend three seasons tanking in an effort to land the necessary assets to build a super team of their own.
Ultimately, super teams make regular-season games even less interesting and encourage organizations to give up on trying to win. After all, what’s the point of making a playoff push only to enjoy a first-round thrashing at the hands of some league juggernaut? Talent disparity in a sports league is fine, but top-heavy associations with one or two stacked rosters are simply a bore.
I might ruffle a few Bostonian feathers by saying this, but I don’t care about the fact that Bill Russell won 11 championships with the Celtics in an era where he was essentially competing against one other team, the Lakers. When your team is stacked full of 6-foot-10 athletic freaks and 95 percent of your competition just showed up for the free gym membership, you should be able to win a lot of basketball games. League parity might not help teams tear up record books, but at least it helps keep fans interested.
Marc Cugnon is a senior in Calhoun College. Contact him at