The Age of Parity

It is official; the gross disparity that maligned professional sports for the last two decades is over.  The 80’s and 90’s were defined by the 49ers, the Cowboys, the Bulls, the Lakers, and of course the Yankees.  

But now that the Clippers have advanced to (and exited from) the second round of the playoffs, and the last five World Series have been won by five different teams not from New York, we can openly recognize a new era.  Looking at the current scoreboard, 3 of the 4 teams still left in the NBA playoffs have never won the Finals, with the Detroit Pistons on the brink of elimination as the lone previous champ.  The Detroit Tigers are the team to beat in the American League, with surprising teams like Arizona, Cincinnati, and Milwaukee making impacts on the National League.  

Sure we’re just coming off of a New England Patriots dynasty, but the Cincinnati Bengals and the Seattle Seahawks are suddenly the two teams with the biggest upsides.  

What’s interesting is that this surge of perennial losers into the postseason picture in every sport hasn’t come at the demise of the old favorites.  The Yankees are still a juggernaut, but have slowly lost the ability to win the big games.  Both the Bulls and Lakers have already collapsed and rebounded again.  The NFL has shown itself to be toughest league to stay on top of, with the 49ers and Cowboys being mockeries of their old selves, and teams going from first to worst the most frequently.

The only problem is that there are still plenty of teams that aren’t reaping the benefits of this newfound fairness.  But it’s looking more and more (to me at least) that these teams are their own worst enemies.  It doesn’t take a payroll in the top quarter to compete, but you probably can’t make it with one in the bottom quarter.  And no matter what market you are in, putting a competitive team on the field will pay off eventually.  

Did you hear about the Kansas City Royals fan who sold his allegiance on Ebay?  I don’t blame him.  I think his friends are still playing poker with it now . . .


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