Struggling Sports Teams Never Cease to Disappoint

It was a cold night in early February 2017. The nation was in perfect unison as what seems like every television in the country was tuned to the same channel, for it was Super Bowl LI between the Falcons and the Patriots. The Atlanta fanbase was ecstatic. They were witnessing what seemed to be the impossible: A 28-3 lead over Tom Brady and the infamous New England dynasty. 

Unfortunately for Falcons fans, when the second half of the third quarter was underway, Tom Brady began to do what he did best, which was to step up to the challenge and disappoint yet another hopeful team. What was soon to come was one of the greatest comebacks in Super Bowl history. 

After giving up one of the biggest leads in Super Bowl history, Falcons owner Arthur Blank’s expression of disbelief and disappointment would symbolize the feelings of Falcons fans nationwide. 

“It almost made me want to stop showing support,” said junior Tate Hoffman, who has been a Falcons fan for over 5 years. “I love the team, but the feeling of losing the way we did when we were so close is hard.”

The 2020 NFL season, despite the questions raised regarding limited fan attendance and other COVID-19 protocols, was a promising one for Atlanta. The Falcons made some exciting additions to their squad. 

First, Atlanta landed Todd Gurley, a three-time Pro Bowl running back from the Los Angeles Rams. A team that once had a rather weak running game now had a reliable scorer to further weaponize the backfield. In addition, Atlanta is a pass-heavy team and has one of the best receiver duos in the NFL with Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones.

Unfortunately, this dynamic receiving duo has not exactly had a picture-perfect start to the season. Injuries have set Jones and Ridley back due to a number of missed games collectively, and it has cost the team greatly.  Starting a new week not knowing if one or both of your star receivers will sit on the bench takes an emotional toll on Falcons fans.

The Falcons currently hold a record of 3-6, with a majority of the games being lost by one touchdown or less. Atlanta’s lack of ability to maintain leads and close out games is certainly frustrating for Falcons fans. 

“Even when we have a lead it makes me anxious,” said Hoffman. “It’s very stressful, which just makes it harder to watch. I know we were going to lose some games this season, but with Julio and his hamstring, and Ridley with his elbow, it’s not looking good.” 

The Falcons are not the only team that has had a rather disappointing start to the season. As usual, injuries have been the judge of success or failure for NFL teams. 

One of the most outstanding instances with injuries this season has been Dallas Cowboys’ star quarterback, Dak Prescott. Unfortunately, during their week-five game against the New York Giants, Prescott was carted off the field after a dislocation of his ankle during a tackle. It was certain that Prescott was going to be out for the remainder of the season. This injury caused major damage to the morale and depth of the Cowboys. 

Since Prescott’s season-ending injury, Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliot has not been as explosive as usual. The Dallas starting quarterbacks, for which there have been many, have not been utilizing Elliot like Prescott did. In addition, Zeke has seemed to be less efficient, splitting carries with fellow running back Tony Pollard.

Disappointment and loss of hope are not just a privilege of the NFL. Other leagues such as the NBA have had a number of disappointing teams. 

One of the most prominent examples is the New York Knicks. In addition to not making the playoffs since 2013, the Knicks have been notorious for drafting busts. 

Over the last decade, New York has brought a general lack of talent to Madison Square Garden, despite having a lottery pick for four of those years. Take their most recent pick, for example. New York had the best odds to land the number-one pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. If they were to get that pick, they would most likely land Zion Williamson, who was said to be one of the best-projected rookies since LeBron James. However, the Knicks fell short and were given the number three pick in the lottery. 

At the time, this didn’t seem all that bad. The nation’s number one recruit coming out of high school, R.J. Barrett, who was projected as the third pick in the draft, was still a very promising NBA prospect. 

Barrett had a solid rookie season, averaging 14 points per game and a 40 percent field goal percentage. However, seeing the success of other rookies such as Ja Morant, Tyler Herro, and of course, Williamson, it was another year of Knicks fans kicking themselves and wondering what could have been.

Despite many disappointing rookie draft picks over the years, the Knicks made what is now seen as a genius draft decision that influenced the entire league’s scouting process. 

In 2016, New York used their fourth overall pick in the draft to land Kristaps Porzingas. The boos and screams of disappointment overpowered the stadium as their unwanted pick went to put on their team’s hat. 

Fortunately, once the season started, Porzingas would prove the Knicks fan base wrong. In his rookie season, Porzingas averaged 20 points a game and was one of the top candidates for rookie of the year. Even though he lost the award to Karl Anthony Towns, Porzingas was a promising young player that the Knicks could potentially build off of and create a successful team around.

This would all change when, partway through the 2019 season, the Knicks would trade their most promising player in decades to the Dallas Mavericks. New York fans were beyond disappointed and began to question the intentions of the Knicks staff. It forced them to ask themselves, “do we not want to win?”

Their only sign of hope for success was now on another team, producing big numbers for them. The trading of their star player reignited a fire of frustration and lack of hope for Knicks fans nationwide.

All teams go through their fair share of struggles, but at the end of the day, it is the true fans who make themselves known and show support. The only thing to do is to have hope, for better days are coming. When the time finally comes and your team prevails, it is the best feeling a fan could ask for.