Arizona teams mired in mediocrity

Reality can be a tough pill to swallow.  The fact is there is not a more certain reality than the perpetual mediocrity of the Arizona sports market.

For lifelong Arizona sports fans, acknowledging this reality is not a sign of disloyalty or abandonment. It is merely the first step towards reversing the dubious standards with which our abysmally average franchises have exhibited over the years.

Let’s face it, we are privileged to live in a region where the existence of professional sports gives us teams to call our own (don’t worry hockey fans, the Coyotes haven’t left yet). This is even more fortunate given the fact that fan support is more fickle than our so-called “seasons.”

For those who faithfully pledge their fandom, however, it is time to start demanding more of the product.  If we are to expect the Arizona sports market to rise from the lukewarm state in which it is mired, we need to adopt an attitude of intolerance for all things mediocre.

In the words of Kevin James from the movie “Hitch,” “If you want to be taken seriously, I suggest you start taking yourself seriously.”

Granted, each franchise has tasted samplings of success.  The Suns, Cardinals, Diamondbacks and Coyotes have all made playoff runs within the last decade, but the Diamondbacks remain the only major Phoenician team to boast of a championship.

The fact is this market has become synonymous with occasionally exciting teams and infrequent playoff runs.  This inconsistency does little to galvanize a fan base that is hanging by a thread.

Although Arizona does not have the tradition or the history that so many of the storied markets possess, in reality it is a major market in the sports industry.

The Phoenix metro area is only one of twelve such areas in the United States that is home to each of the four major sports (football, basketball, baseball and hockey).

As a fan base, the time is now to take ownership of the fact that mediocrity is unacceptable.  Perhaps we need to channel the spirit of the Philadelphia fans, who famously booed Santa Claus at the halftime of 1968 Eagles game.

While I’m not condoning waxing the Gorilla, if Phoenix fans expect the local market to maintain legitimacy, they must be direct in their criticism.  Refusing to attend games is one way of expressing frustration, but fans must also make their voices heard and refuse to accept the clichéd responses from front office brass.

Perhaps I’m asking too much of this notoriously passive group, or perhaps they have been rendered so complacent that they blithely accept the dismal reality of .500 teams and domed venues.

Let’s rise from mediocrity’s muck and demand a winner.

 

Reach the columnist at mrrich2@asu.edu or follow him at @cshmneyrichard.

 

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