So, there’s this, an article published on Forbes.com that tries to use math to prove that Seattle is the ‘most miserable sports city’ in America.
To be blunt, this article should never have been written. It was a waste of time to write it and it was a waste of time to read it. Not only that, but the exact same article was written in May 2010 for Forbes by the exact same guy.
Here’s my issue, in 4 parts —
Trying to quantify misery in this way is a stupid exercise.
Not all sports fans are created equal.
Neither are all sports towns.
To reiterate, the guy already wrote this article last year!
First of all, Mr. Van Riper’s method is severely flawed.
For those that didn’t read the article, the gist of it is that the most miserable cities must be the ones with plenty of opportunity for success, but not much actual success.
That is to say, a team that repeatedly makes the playoffs but never wins a championship is worth a lot more on the misery scale than a team that never even goes to the post-season. Different scenarios are weighted differently, such that losing in the Championship Series is worth less than losing in the World Series.
(Van Riper admits that he has disregarded pure futility, because otherwise the Cubs’ century of failure would vastly outweigh the Braves’ recent near misses. This is effectively saying that variables that nullify his argument will be ignored.)
To say that a team that keeps falling just short is harder to watch than a team that never does anything of note is ludicrous, because at least a team in the playoffs has a shot. A team at home on the couch will never win anything.
I have experienced this in my own life and I will always, always, always celebrate when my team plays October baseball. Of course, using Van Riper’s math, the Dallas sports fan is somehow more unhappy after the Rangers failed to win 3 more games in 2010.
In a practical sense, this makes no sense.
It should be obvious by now that the Texas Rangers are far and away my franchise of choice, they have been for almost 20 years. For me, the Mavericks could win an NBA Championship this year and next year and the year after that and it would never mean as much as the Rangers making an appearance in the World Series in 2010.
In the same way, there are plenty of Mavs fans that could give two nothings about whether or not the Rangers ever go back to the World Series. I can almost guarantee that it’s that way in Seattle too, because fans that identify completely with every sport — let alone every team — in their market are a very rare breed.
That should have been taken into account.
In the same way that all fans are different, so are all cities. Baseball in Dallas is not the same as baseball in Boston. Asking the average Dallas resident whether they would rather have a Super Bowl or a World Series, a vast majority would say Super Bowl without hesitation.
Every city weighs their teams differently, which should have also been taken into account.
Do I need to go over that last point again, the part about how Van Riper published this article twice in a 10 month span? Probably not.
(Can you plagiarize yourself?)
Having said all that, what bothers me the most about all of this is that Van Riper uses the term miserable, which implies that fans in Seattle and Atlanta and elsewhere are unhappy. Maybe they are unhappy, but that doesn’t mean they have no pride.
No one has the right to tell someone else that they’re miserable because their team isn’t any good. For most of us, you love the team you love and it really is as simple as that.