Sports Heaven and Sports Purgatory

There were four huge sports events in Wisconsin this weekend: two postseason baseball games between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Arizona Diamondbacks; a football game in Madison between the Badgers (rated #7 going in) and Nebraska (#8); and a game in Green Bay between the undefeated Packers and the Denver Broncos. The Wisconsin teams won all four.

Here in Minnesota, things are quite different. Has any city ever suffered through such a sports drought? The Twins, the lone bright spot for Minnesota sports fans last year, finished with the second-worst record in major league baseball this year. The Timberwolves, coincidentally, had the second-worst record in the NBA. The Vikings are off to an 0-4 start and clearly need to start rebuilding. The Gophers are mediocre (basketball and hockey) or worse (football) in the major sports. Yesterday, they sustained their worst football defeat ever in the Big Ten, 58-0 against Michigan. They are 1-4 and will be lucky to win another game. The best thing you can say about the Michigan game is that our coach didn’t have another seizure. Seriously.

The contrast in sports fortunes between these adjoining states seems remarkable. Can anyone think of a parallel? Has another city ever been so far down in the sports depths? I doubt it. And does anyone have a theory as to why Wisconsin’s sports teams are so comprehensively better than ours? Is it dumb luck? I suppose so; but it is hard to imagine that Minnesota will have a weekend like the one Wisconsin just experienced in my lifetime.

There is an exception to nearly every rule, of course, and this year it is the Minnesota Lynx, our WNBA team. They are beginning their league championship series tonight, against someone–I forget who. I am not sure whether the game is being televised; if so, I am missing it. Oh, I almost forgot–the Gopher women’s hockey team is really good, too. Maybe we are finally living out Garrison Keillor’s dream of a place where the women are strong, and the men are good-looking. For a sports fan, Minnesota is, in any event, woebegone.


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