The Connecticut Huskies Women’s basketball team. Stephen Curry. Wladimir & Vitali Klitschko. All have or are being blamed that they’re ruining the sport they’re dominating. Success, as the New England Patriots and Tom Brady or Duke and Mike Krzyzewski can tell everyone, brings hate. But it doesn’t ruin a sport.
Roger Federer didn’t ruin tennis during his incredible run from 2004 to 2007. It helped develop Rafael Nadal and then Novak Djokovic into all-time greats, with Djokovic on course to possibly beat Federer’s records. Tiger Woods (an example Geno Auriemma used when having to defend his team beating up everyone in yet another NCAA Tournament) is the best thing to ever happen to Golf, which continues to succeed and flourish with fantastic depth years after Woods has won his last major.
Michael Phelps didn’t ruin swimming. Usain Bolt didn’t ruin sprinting. Spain winning two European championships and one World Cup in the span of four years didn’t ruin soccer, and neither did Brazil’s three World Cups in four seasons. Excellence helps push others to that level when there’s a fair playing field. Trying to blame the better teams and athletes for the failures of their rivals is simply making up excuses for someone who isn’t good enough.
Dominance of a unique level is always hard to explain. And while there’s sympathy at first to someone coming out of nowhere, like there was for the Golden State Warriors last season, they keep on winning. And no one figures out how to stop Stephen Curry. It’s getting annoying. And then comes the hate. Saying they’re arrogant. And then come former players and experts, saying that 3-point shooting isn’t how basketball should be played. That he’s ruining basketball. That last season was a one-time thing. The Warriors? They keep on breaking records.
No one hated on UConn and Auriemma when they dethroned Pat Summitt and Tennessee in what seems like eons ago. The hate and complaints came later. When they won 90 games in a row. Right now they’re winning 72 in a row. It’s not just because the best basketball players in the country want to play for Auriemma, a Hall of Fame coach, and UConn. It’s because the Huskies play 40 minutes of flawless, or striving to be flawless basketball. It’s a standard other teams should follow. It’s shouldn’t be something people and experts fishing for controversy try to bring back down to everyone’s level.
Having a juggernaut team is a two-edged sword in a sport that’s looking for more attention like Women’s basketball. This isn’t the NFL or NBA, with people watching anyway, and when there’s enough talent, money and high level coaching (which is the key in UConn’s case) to push enough teams to compete with the best, whoever it may be. And UConn creates interest. Whether it’s by being better than everyone, or by being the villain, the one everyone tries to take down. A purpose Floyd Mayweather filled, although there are plenty of reasons to dislike Mayweather besides his excellence in the ring. UConn just win. Teams should try to catch up with them, not complain about them ruining the sport. Because they’re not.