U.S. News & World Report just ranked Denver and Colorado Springs high on its list of “best places to live” in America. Apparently the job market, cost of living, and quality of life in the Rocky Mountains leaves little to be desired. To add to the accolades, the Broncos just won the Super Bowl.
Before you say “Honey – pack up the kids! We’re moving to Colorado!”, you must pause if you’re a sports fan. Sure, that Lombardi Trophy is shiny and new and will feed Denver’s ego for the rest of the year. But it sure is lacking for company. If the State of Colorado had a trophy case for professional sports, the Lombardi would almost find itself in solitary confinement. Sequestered. You might even feel bad for it.
Denver wasn’t even supposed to win this Super Bowl. Fans from North Carolina (and frankly, anywhere outside of Colorado) never gave us a chance. But we’re used to it out here. Denver and Colorado are perpetual underdogs when it comes to sports championships.
The Super Bowl win got me curious, so I spent a few hours researching Colorado’s professional sports franchises (Wikipedia is my new best friend). I desperately wanted to use the phrase “a list of championships a mile high“. Far from it. To be honest I had to dig deep to find any noteworthy performances.
To spin it positive, Colorado might earn your envy for being one of only thirteen states where the four major professional sports are represented. whoop-dee-doo. The last time the Broncos won the Super Bowl was last century. The one and only time the Avalanche (hockey) won the Stanley Cup was 2001. The last time the Rockies (baseball) won the World Series was never. But at least the Rockies made it to the World Series . The Nuggets (basketball) started play in 1967 and fifty years later we’re still waiting for a spot in the Finals, let alone an NBA Championship.
To add a miserable exclamation point to Colorado’s track record, the Nuggets will once again miss the playoffs this year (it’s a tradition), the Avalanche are battling a half-dozen teams for the very last playoff slot in the Western Conference, and the Rockies… well, the Rockies haven’t even begun the new season yet they’re projected to finish in last place in the National League. Go COLORADO!
My Wikipedia search – ever more desperate – moved on to college championships. Colorado’s six D1 schools have accounted for a grand total of one football championship in their entire un-storied histories (Univ. of Colorado, 1990). None of these schools have come anywhere close to tasting college basketball or baseball glory. But then, mercifully, we have hockey. On the college ice the Centennial State shines. Denver University and Colorado College have combined for nine hockey championships; the most recent in 2005. I need to become a better fan of the puck.
If you’re reading from California, Massachusetts, Texas, or Florida, you feel none of my pain. Each of you can account for five, ten, even twenty professional or college sports championships in the last fifteen years alone. But if you’re reading from Georgia or Washington D.C., you’re pitching the proverbial championship shutout. You have my sympathies.
On the heels (hooves?) of the Broncos’ Super Bowl victory, Peyton Manning hung up his cleats for good – a justified decision. But Peyton’s backup just signed with the Houston Texans. In fact, several marquee Broncos have already left the state for other (better?) teams and higher salaries. Sigh. Back up the truck boys; the Lombardi Trophy is heading to another state soon. Let Colorado’s next sports championship drought commence.
So go ahead sports fans – move to Colorado. But I suggest you follow soccer. The Colorado Rapids have only been kicking for twenty years and they’ve already made the finals twice and won the whole thing once. Go RAPIDS!