March to the Sea: The Dynasties Debate

Do They Make or Break a Sport?

Another baseball playoffs. Another Yankees appearance.

Aren’t you sick of this? And I’m not just talking to the Indians, Mariners and A’s fans out there, who watch their teams lose year after year to the Bronx Bombers in the postseason. I’m talking to the Royals fans out there, the Tigers fans, the Blue Jays supporters. I’m talking to the Expos faithful who see the Braves win their division every single year, and the Pirates fans who have had to adjust to residence in the cellar while their best players book World Series tickets.

Shouldn’t the L.A. Clippers be able to cheer about something? Haven’t Miami Heat fans suffered enough already?

Down with dynasties! The NFL has it right, and it’s high time the other professional leagues come around.

Sure, baseball is a lot of fun if you’re a fan of one of seven teams—but if you bleed Devil Ray Green and Purple, you’re screwed before the season even begins. It shouldn’t have to be that way. Dynasties are designed like George W. Bush’s tax cut: the rich get richer, and the poor remain lower class citizens, relegated to viewing high society from the outside.

Every team should have a chance to win at the beginning of the season. Then, the games, themselves, would decide who wins and who loses in a given series. As the system stands now, we might as well just fast forward to the playoffs and skip the entire regular season. For a number of teams, there’s really no point.

You know the Yankees are going to be there in October. When a team has that much talent (and, therefore, money), a playoff berth is a lock.

I’m not saying a lot of money guarantees you a playoff berth. I’m just saying no money guarantees you’ve got a monumental task on your hands just to have a winning record.

The Lakers come into this NBA season with Shaq, Kobe, Karl Malone and Gary Payton. Is there any chance at all that this team won’t make the playoffs? Maybe if Kobe doesn’t play and the plague hits Shaq and the Glove. Otherwise, you can pencil them in, just like every other year.

In the NBA, the problem with the set-up is not money redistribution—there is a salary cap. But the Lakers signed two premiere players to huge contracts before the current cap took effect. Now, the rest of the league wants to play with Kobe and Shaq for a free and easy joyride to a championship.

I’ll admit, there are some nice features to dynasties. It’s easy to hate the Yankees, and since they make the playoffs every year, you can always root against them. But wouldn’t it be better if you could root for your home team rather than against New York?

And if you’re a Lakers fan, you’ve got to love a team of four future NBA Hall-of-Famers. Plus, because the Lakers got so much better, the Spurs, the Kings and the Mavericks all improved out of necessity. But unfortunately, there’s only enough talent to go so far. So while the NBA Western Conference has four dynamite teams, the East (outside of New Jersey, arguably) is woeful.

In the NFL, every team has a shot, every year. Who would have thought Carolina, Minnesota and Kansas City would be undefeated going into week seven? Last year, Atlanta surprised. Two years ago, New England came out of nowhere. Every team, except the Bengals and Cardinals, has a legitimate shot to win the Super Bowl every year.

That’s what sports should be all about—the unexpected, the new, the unpredictable.

Dynasties mean the same, the old, the boring.

So go away Yankees, go away Braves. So long Lakers and Spurs and New Jersey Devils. We’re all sick of you. It’s time for something different.

—Staff writer Alex M. Sherman can be reached at sherman@fas.harvard.edu.

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