Minute with Meltdown Vol. 3 – The Worst Sports State in America

Posted on October 19, 2011

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By Matt Melton

Fans invest more time, energy and, no doubt, money, than they would ever care to admit, in following, rooting for, and otherwise supporting their hometown teams. For the hard-core fans, this investment stretches beyond just the good, healthy, or rich times. These fans are also passionate during the bad times, the poorer times, and the sicker times. Fandom is a marriage, and fans have a right to be in a blissful one.

I have a problem with the current and immediate future of professional and college sports in my home state. I am not ready to sign the divorce papers just yet, but I am definitely in need of some counseling when it comes to my relationship with its sports teams, as I believe I live in the worst sports state in America. I am limiting this discussion to the four-major professional leagues, and to football and basketball for college.

How did I get to this point? Think of it as a cross between the “grass is always being greener…” and “jealousy being the root of all evil”. I look at the rest of America, and I see success and hope for the fans of their home state’s sports teams. But let’s discard emotion and take a logical look at this via process of elimination.

First, let’s discard any state that either does not have a major professional sports team, or has a nationally irrelevant college team. It’s better to be single than to be in a dysfunctional relationship, right? Farewell to Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming.

Moving on, if your team has won a national championship in the very recent past, your marriage is doing just fine.  Goodbye then to Alabama, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. Furthermore, if your state has a team that in the last year performed at or near the top of their respective sport’s standings, you have no river to cry for me. So long to Arkansas (top-10 football team), Florida (top-10 basketball), Georgia (Falcons #1 seed last year), Kansas & Kentucky (#1 and 2 seeds in NCAA tournament), Mississippi (top-15 football for Miss. State), Nebraska (football) North Carolina (top-10 basketball), Ohio (#1 seed), Oklahoma & Oregon (football), South Carolina (two teams ranked in football) and West Virginia (football).

Does your state have a team that very recently won a divisional championship, such that extraordinary amounts of champagne were sprayed? I’m thinking of you Minnesota and Washington (Twins & Seahawks, last year). if you have teams that recently made the playoffs and show great promise for the future, you are out of the conversation – Colorado (Nuggets) and Tennessee (Predators). And if you have a team that is consistently dominant against an opponent, and would put fear into the teams I root for, you are gone too – Maryland (Ravens), New Jersey (the real home for the Jets).

Finally, do you have a team that has defied the odds, taken the nation by storm and made us fall in love with you?  You then have no argument. Adieu to Idaho (Boise St), Indiana (Butler), Michigan (Lions), Utah (BYU) and Virginia (VCU, baby!).

We have now crossed forty-nine states off the list, leaving us with only one. I reveal to you the worst sports state in America: Missouri. Having as many prominent sports teams as we do here, you would never think it would get this low, but it has. The terrible teams are easy to name, and their plight is borderline historic. The Rams and Chiefs show no signs of hope. The Royals and Blues are always “one season away”, so I’ll believe it when I see it. Mizzou consistently underachieves in both basketball and football, despite high expectations; and they can’t even decide what conference to play in. Saint Louis University? Rick Majerus, a winner you do not make.

I know what you are thinking, what about the St. Louis Cardinals? They are currently playing in the World Series.  You would be correct in saying that the Cardinals are presently doing very well, thus your point has been made; however, nothing has been won yet. If you recall, I began this piece by saying I have a problem with both the current AND immediate future of the teams.

This World Series, while great for Cardinals fans, is just masking the real trouble lying ahead. In just a couple of weeks Albert Pujols is going to be a free agent. The greatest player St. Louis has seen this side of Stan Musial is going to be on the open market to the highest bidder. Pujols has already rejected management’s contract offer before spring training. He wants to experience free agency, and it scares me that free agency might just want to experience him. If Pujols leaves the Cardinals this winter, then this recent playoff run, championship or not, will be a footnote to a legacy forever scorned. With so many current players, including All-Star catcher Yadier Molina, having expiring contracts, with Tony LaRussa & Dave Duncan seemingly always working on their last season together, with an aging Lance Berkman & Chris Carpenter, and with Adam Wainwright returning from elbow ligament replacement surgery, the Cardinals could be a very different team in just a few months.

Missouri has at least eight major sports teams for fans to elope with, but only one worth bringing home to Mom.  And that team is like a mushrooming ulcer, ready to rip a hole through the stomach of its fans. That makes Missouri the Worst Sports State in America.

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