The struggle of being a D.C. sports fan
By ADAM CURTIS
College Contributor Network
Although D.C. sports seem to be #DCRising, being a D.C. sports fan this past decade hasn't been all that easy. To put it mildly, Washington teams have seen some bad times in recent years. Sure, the Washington Kastles of World Team Tennis (WTT) have won five championships in their seven years of existence, and who could forget D.C. United's 2004 MLS Cup run, winning their fourth championship in the storied franchise's history.
Having said that, the WTT season is less than a month long, so fans got only a brief taste of victory, certainly not enough to numb the agony wrought by the other D.C. sports teams over the other 11 months. As for D.C. United, that franchise is one of the most successful in Major League Soccer history, so surely they'd never let down the fans. Wrong. They play in D.C., remember? They entered 2013 with dreams of glory only to suffer a nightmare of a season, winning only three games and setting the league record for fewest wins in a single season. On the plus side, they did make the record books.
But let's turn our attention to the "big four" of football, basketball, hockey and baseball. I'm talking about the Washington Redskins, Wizards, Capitals and Nationals. D.C. has been on a 22-year championship drought since the Redskins won the Super Bowl in 1992. Although the Redskins were successful once upon a time, they have known nothing but failure since Daniel Snyder bought the team in 1999, never once advancing past the divisional round of the playoffs. Having a bad owner can do that to you. From failed coaches, like Steve Spurrier to Jim Zorn, to failed offseason acquisitions, like Adam Archuleta, Albert Haynesworth and Donovan McNabb, the organization has botched one decision after another.
Forgetting about the Redskins for a minute, let's look at the Wizards. First of all, unless there are thousands of Wizards roaming around D.C. that I don't know about, what's with the name? At least the Redskins have a respectable na... oh wait, never mind. Getting back to the Wizards, they had a successful run when they were known as the Bullets, but in recent years the franchise has struggled to be mediocre. In the mid-2000's, the Wizards made the playoffs consistently, only to be eliminated early. They were never championship contenders, and once All-Star point guard Gilbert Arenas brought a gun into the team's locker room after he got into an argument with another teammate over a game of cards, things got ugly really fast. The Wizards entered rebuilding mode, and subsequently entered losing mode.
Speaking of losing mode, the Capitals have been stuck in that mode for quite some time when the playoffs come around. From the '03-'04 season to the '06-'07 season, the Caps finished last in their division three times, and besides drafting All-Star forward Alex Ovechkin with the number one overall pick, the best thing that happened to Caps fans was the NHL lockout in the '04-'05 season, because they were relieved from watching less-than-stellar hockey on a nightly basis for a whole season. In the '07-'08 season, general manager George McPhee made a change, firing coach Glen Hanlon and replacing him with Bruce Boudreau. The Caps ended up finishing first in the Southeast Division, and since then, have only failed to make the playoffs once. Despite their regular season success, the Caps have barely sniffed playoff success. At least they answered the question on everyone's mind: What's worse, knowing your team is going to be bad, and then they are bad, or having big expectations only to be let down in classic D.C. fashion? The answer is neither. They both suck.
The last team we'll look at is the Nationals. After baseball came back to D.C. in 2005, many fans would've liked to see it depart once again after the dismal performances the Nats put up. They finished last in the division five out of their first six seasons in D.C., and put up back-to-back 100-loss seasons. Although their farm system was abysmal in the beginning, the best thing that comes out of being a bad team is getting high draft picks to build your team around in the future. (See Robert Griffin III, John Wall, Alex Ovechkin and Bryce Harper.) In the 2012 season, the Nats, under skipper Davey Johnson, finished first in the division. They were one out away from advancing out of the NLDS, but closer Drew Storen, who had been brilliant all year, lost his composure in crunch time. So if you run into someone with trust issues, just know that they are probably a fan of D.C. sports.
Having said all that, right now is a weird time to be alive. The Redskins hired general manager Scot McCloughan, an ingenious move by team owner Dan Snyder, and McCloughan has made some great draft choices and signed some solid veterans. Many say his greatest move wasn't a move he made, but one he didn't make. Overpaying for washed-up veterans is something the Redskins specialize in, so by the looks of it, they've finally learned from past mistakes. The Wizards have also looked good, building a solid group around point guard John Wall, giving the Wizards a good inside presence with big men Nene and Marcin Gortat, as well as sharpshooters Bradley Beal and future Hall-of-Famer Paul Pierce. The Wizards looked great in their first series of the playoffs, sweeping the Toronto Raptors, and seem to match up well against the number one seed, the Atlanta Hawks, in the second round.
The Capitals are also currently in the playoffs, surviving their first-round series against the New York Islanders that lasted seven games, and are now facing off against another New York team, the Rangers. Lastly, the Nationals entered this season as the World Series favorites, and although they haven't lived up to expectations so far, the season is still young, and with a rotation like theirs, something drastic would have to happen for them not to make the playoffs. Struggling with injuries, the Nats have been underwhelming so far, but recently they've been on a roll and are finally hovering near .500.
Life for D.C. sports fans is good right now, and with all that they've been through in recent years, they deserve it.
Adam Curtis is a freshman at American University. Growing up, he played soccer and tennis and is a die-hard D.C. sports fan. Follow him on Twitter: @actennis96