So on Wednesday night, while I was watching the Atlanta Braves get vivisected in front of the nation, I had a lot of time to think about the nature of fandom and championships. Some of it, I wrote in this column. I grew up in Atlanta, and my teams have won a grand total of one (1) championship. Two, if you count a 2-year-old Atlanta United team.
One championship in my lifetime kind of sucks. But just how bad is it, mathematically speaking? I decided to run some numbers and see just how far behind the pack my Atlanta brethren and I are right now.
Let’s start with the average lifespan of an American, and let’s subtract the years early in life where you don’t know what’s happening. Sorry, if your dad dressed baby you up in a Chicago Bulls jersey in the ‘90s or a Boston Celtics onesie in the ‘80s or a Pittsburgh Steelers bib in the ‘70s, that doesn’t count. A championship only counts if you remember it enough to have cried if you lost.
So that puts us at an average of 70 years’ worth of fandom. From there, let’s break down the leagues:
NFL: 32 teams
NBA: 30 teams
MLB: 30 teams
NHL: 31 teams
Power 5 schools: 65
Purely by the numbers, that means over the course of any given 70 years, every NFL team, for example, should win the Super Bowl at least twice. Every Power 5 school should win a championship in football and basketball at least once.
Assuming you went to a big college and have a rooting interest in all four of the Big Four sports, you can expect statistically somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 to 12 championships in your lifetime.
Ten to 12. How close are you?
Granted, there’s plenty of variance in the totaling of what constitutes “your” championships. The MLS, for instance, hasn’t been around all that long, relative to the Big Four, but it’s got its share of devotees. Plus, you might have gone to a small college without hope of ever cracking the college football playoff or advancing past the first round of the NCAA tournament. That’s OK! A win is a win!
Also worth noting: there are highly successful teams outside the Big Four with impressive win totals, like UConn women’s basketball (11 titles) or Real Madrid (13 Champions League titles). And there are individuals with monstrous trophy cases too, like NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt (seven championships) and Tiger Woods (15 majors). If Roger Federer’s 20 majors mean as much to you as 20 Super Bowl victories, well, who are we to rain on your parade?
Now, we do have to reckon with The Boston Question. Those chowderheads up north have vacuumed up a substantial share of the championships over the last two decades. And as long as they can remember the days before Brady showed up, we can’t really begrudge them that, can we? I mean, sure, Boston kids born since 1995 don’t deserve to see another championship for the rest of their lives, but fair is fair, you know? Sorry, kids.
So get to totaling. Of course, if you’re one of those bandwagon-hopping types claiming the Yankees, Patriots, Warriors and Alabama as “your” teams, you deserve to watch nothing but the Bengals and Marlins for the rest of your days.
Anyway, here’s your chance to brag. Let the world know, in the comments, how many championships you claim, and list the teams too. Show your work, and do your victory dance. How many you got?
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