OPINION: Are sports dynasties a bad thing?

headshot_Alex Cala

Alex Cala

For four straight years, the early part of my summers were defined by one thing and one thing only: the Cleveland Cavaliers seemingly inevitable NBA Finals matchup against the Golden State Warriors.

While these four consecutive series were very entertaining and memorable, they began to grow a little tiresome around 2017, and a part of me was happy that LeBron James going to Los Angeles meant that a fifth iteration of the series wasn’t in the cards.

After all, one of the things that makes sports so appealing is the expectation of unpredictability, which not only allows for more excitement, but also for fans to cling onto the hope that their team will eventually be a world champion.

It is the reason that the 2016 Cavaliers, despite the immense amount of luck and circumstance it took for them win a championship, will probably be looked back on more fondly than any of the Warriors teams that won a title; fans just love the underdog.

While this may be true, dynasties have taken over as of late, calling into question the effect these franchises are having on the world of sports.

For example, the New England Patriots’ victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday’s AFC Championship game, not only means that New England will be advancing to their third Super Bowl in four years, but it also means that it’ll be their eighth Super Bowl berth in the past 15 seasons.

This win brought with it a collective social media outcry from many hardcore fans, who were bemoaning the fact that quarterback Tom Brady, and the NFL’s most hated team, would be making yet another appearance in the biggest sporting event in the world.

However, if the ratings were any indication, this disgust was not matched by the general public: 54 million people tuned in to the aforementioned championship game. Afterwards, Nielsen said it was the second most-watched AFC Championship of the last 42 years.

A similar situation occurred last season in the English Premier League. The Premier League, which is the most-watched soccer league in the world, has only had six winners since its inception in 1992. (For reference, the NBA has had 10 different teams win a title in that span, the least out of major American sports leagues).

Despite the competition being dominated by conglomerate-backed teams such as Manchester City, the audiences didn’t seem to care. Ratings were through the roof for the 2017-18 season, NBC claimed a record viewership total with a year that saw City lead the league for 34 out of the 38 weeks en route to a record-setting championship run.

Given all of this evidence, there exists a conflict. Should fans laud these franchises for bringing a sense of uniformity and predictability to the game, which in turn draws a larger audience in the process? Or should they instead lash out at those teams for essentially making it somewhat pointless to tune in every week?

Personally, I can see both sides of the issue, but I think that at the end of the day, critics are forgetting one thing: these dynasties likely had to overcome another dynasty to become the powerhouses they are today. After all, it’s not as if Tom Brady came into the NFL and immediately won a Super Bowl.

Teams will come and go, players will retire and eventually parity will be restored, with the constant shuffling of these great teams serving as driving forces for innovation in athletics.

Additionally, underdogs can still win. The 2017 Philadelphia Eagles and the aforementioned Cavs team are a testament to that. They might not pull off as many upsets, but when they do, it becomes that much more surprising, which arguably makes it more enjoyable for the average fan tuning in. 

All of these qualities prove that dynasties aren’t as horrible as they’re made out to be, which means that sports fans shouldn’t take their presence for granted. After all, these teams don’t last forever, so we should enjoy their greatness while we can.

Alex Cala is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected].