Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Pains of Success

As I write this, Liverpool have blown another game (fun fact: I started writing this a week ago, and Liverpool had done the same thing), with an anemic draw against Birmingham. Today it was a tie, but add their weak league performance to their flailing Champions League performance and something is wrong with the 'Pool this year.

The issues with Liverpool is more than a bad run of form early in the season (Man United are often slow starters, and you don't hear anyone calling for Sir Alex's head). And it's not just that they haven't won the Premier League in almost two decades. It's that they've come into almost every one of those seasons thinking that this is their year. And this wears down a team and it's fans. Not every team gets undone by this mentality, though. The aforementioned Manchester United, the LA Lakers and the evil Yankees all have a certain calm about then, they've won before and they'll win again. Maybe not for a few years, but winning comes naturally.

This win-every-year mentality seems to be a big issue with college football teams. There are a number of teams who feel it's their birthright to be in the national title game every season. Nebraska, Oklahoma, Miami, Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, Texas, USC, and so on. Most of these teams will still win 8 or 9 games every year, but for fans, anything less than undefeated is a wasted season.

If you're USC, you're more likely to choke to a second-tier PAC 10 team than to win the big one. If you're Oklahoma, at least your team will choke in a big game. I'm not sure which one is more painful, but these regular trends of falling short don't seem to really change peoples expectations. There's something to be said for the Georgia Techs and Oregons of the world. To USC, a trip to the Rose Bowl is just another trip to the Rose Bowl. For Oregon, it's something special.

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