If you ask someone why they like watching their respected sports teams, they’ll often tell you it’s an escape. Watching your team is a form of entertainment that we all love. During those three hours of game time and commercials, we’re not thinking about what our course load is looking like or what kind of problems we have. We’re focused on something that’s supposed to take our minds off of that.
The way this year is going, I guess you can say, “Thank goodness for reality.” The progress of Buffalo’s civic landscape has taken a lot of Buffalonian minds off of the terrible distraction of our pro sports teams.
Usually, when the Bills and Sabres are winning, it distracts us from the reality of WNY’s region that has taken away thousands of jobs and people’s lives.
This year, the roles have been reversed.
Buffalo’s landscape is the distraction people are using to take their minds off of the harsh reality of the Bills and Sabres. The downtown waterfront is finally starting to develop, construction cranes are surrounding the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, and Washington street is blocked off due to the “Pegula Center” construction. What brings a big smile to my face is that Downtown Buffalo is being repopulated. The outer harbor has, after 50 years, been freed of the chokehold of the Transportation Authority.
That’s whats got me saying, “Lets Go Buffalo.” I can’t say the same about the Bills or Sabres.
I’ve lived in Buffalo for 21 years, and since I’ve been able to understand sports, I cannot remember the last time the current Bills/Sabres teams looking this terrible. It’s been 13 years since the last time the Bills have played in a playoff game, and it’s been 17 years since their last playoff win. The Sabres haven’t been to the playoffs since the 2011-2012 season. They haven’t won a playoff series since 2006-2007. After this brutal season finishes up, it will be seven out of the last 11 years that the Sabres will fail to reach the playoffs.
There’s really no excuse for it. Every other team in pro sports has been able to, for at least one season, create a winning team. NFL and NHL teams are owned by plutocrats, and the leagues structures are pretty much socialist. Caps on players salaries denies bigger markets from overspending on talent. The largest chunk of NFL revenue obviously comes from TV broadcasting, which are split equally among teams. Then the teams select the talent in reverse order of finish (the team that finishes last gets the first overall pick).
But for the last 15 years, the Sabres and Bills somehow reverse those odds on themselves.
The blame stops with the owner, who is the one who puts together the management that puts the teams together. The Bills haven’t had inspired management since Bill Polian left. The years since then have been filled with terrible personnel decisions, none bigger than trying to find an elite quarterback, which is arguable the most important position in pro sports. The Bills watched top-notch prospects come and go because they overcommitted to Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was cut last week.
Sabres owner Terry Pegula’s bank roll is continuous and made a promise to the City of Buffalo. Unfortunately, Pegula is keeping the team’s rebuilding future into the hands of Darcy Regier who is clearly the most responsible for its failure. In my opinion, it’s only going to get worse if he’s the guy running things.
What we have to realize is what happens on the waterfront, medical campuses, and our neighborhoods matter a lot more than the Sabres and Bills who continue to slip into the abyss.