Can the Caps’ historic Stanley Cup win erase decades of losing and provide a much-needed boost to the DC Area Sports Market?
By Tyrone Eddins Jr.
The Nation’s Capital may be home to the most powerful political office on the planet, but when it comes to sports, this area has lagged way behind the competition for far too long. DC sports fans have had to suffer through decades of DC sports teams producing nothing more than perennial losers, piss-poor excuses, dysfunction, and fool’s gold.
However, this lack of success isn’t born out of a lack of major sports representation. The DC sports market boasts not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE, count ‘em, FIVE professional sports teams, as well as Along a couple of major college sports programs in Georgetown and Maryland. With the exception of the DC United and its four MLS Cups, the DC area was forced to endure a 26-year championship drought with the last championship parade coming in 1992 to celebrate the Washington Football Team's last Super Bowl victory.
Mercifully, all of that changed this year with the Washington Capitals claiming their first ever Stanley Cup by beating the Vegas Golden Knights four games to one. Well, hats off to the champs! What they accomplished was not only an amazing feat for the Capitals franchise, but for the DC Sports area as a whole.
DC sports fans love to shout and scream in staunch defense of the DC Sports Market, I know this firsthand because I’m a DC sports fan (except for the Washington Football Team. No way do I support them, but that’s a story for another blog post). But the truth is undeniable. No championship teams in four of the five major sports in a long, long time. Another troubling fact is that the big name free agents don’t seem willing to sign here. Why is that? DC has all of the makings of a free-agency magnet and a sports market powerhouse. It has the location. It has the tourist attractions and representation in all of the major sports. So, what’s been holding it back from competing with the likes of Boston and LA? Simple. Winning. You can have all of the ingredients, but without the main ingredient of winning, the DC Sports Market will never be recognized as one of the greats sports markets in this country.
And that’s where the newly crowned Stanley Cup Champs, come in. This year, the Caps failed to win the NHL’s Presidents Trophy (NHL best regular season record) for the first time in three seasons after winning it back-to-back from 2016-17. It’s safe to say that hopes were not at an all-time high entering this year’s postseason. But, in the end, none of that mattered. This team caught lightning in a bottle, got red-hot at the right time, and rode that lightning all the way to their first ever Stanley Cup. The win was amazing, but even more amazing was the fan response to the Caps winning the Cup.
The subsequent victory parade engulfed the city causing the federal government to encourage teleworking for its employees as thousands descended on the National Mall to celebrate the Stanley Cup coming home to DC. As I observed the celebrations, I felt a swell of pride as well as hope that perhaps this area can finally live up to its potential and be the sports market it was meant to be. But it can’t stop with the Caps winning this year. One of the other major sports franchises owes it to this area to step up and continue the winning with a championship of their own.
So, who is the most likely candidate for a ride on the championship train? Probably the Washington Nationals. But can they do it? They have been one of the MLB’s biggest disappointments in recent years with their regular season greatness, but postseason letdowns and meltdowns. Will this year be any different? They certainly have the talent for a deep postseason run, but then again, they have never been lacking in talent. The stakes are certainly higher this year with Bryce Harper’s contract hanging over the franchise. Another playoff disappointment could push the young megastar to seek greener pastures elsewhere in the MLB.
The same can be said for the Washington Wizards. How much longer will John Wall, the face of the franchise, tolerate the playoff disappointments before he seeks an organization that gives him a better chance to win? The Washington Football team continues to trip over itself, but perhaps a new QB will help them become a contender once again in this upcoming season.
From a DC Area Sports fan’s perspective, this is all pretty simple and straight forward. The DC area NEEDS another winner almost as bad as it needed this first one to break the decades-long championship drought. Another winner could help this area turn the corner as a sports market by bringing more media attention and advertising endorsements, which will in turn, attract more of the big name free agents and hopefully continue the winning.
The Caps have paved the way by uncovering and resurfacing a championship road that had been long grown over with weeds, dirt, and disappointment. Do any of the other DC Sports franchises have what it takes to follow suit? We all know that winning can be contagious. Let’s see if one of these other teams can catch the fever.