Our down-home dynasties
It is easy to take persistent athletic greatness for granted. Certainly this was the case for New York Yankees fans who watched the franchise win 16 of the 26 World Series played from mid-1930s to the early 1960s.
Winning seemed their birthright, until a 15-year dry period followed the 1962 championship.
Two modern-day dynasties have emerged in our own backyard in an age when it is tougher to sustain dominance. In professional sports, great athletes are free to take their skills to the highest bidder, not true in the days of the old Yankee dynasties. In college sports, the competition to sign top athletes is fierce.
Yet the University of Connecticut women’s basketball program and the New England Patriots football franchise have managed to remain at or near the top of their games for a long time.
On Thursday we were again reminded that winning cannot be assumed. UConn lost on the road to a Baylor team whose bigger post players dominated under the basket.
The loss snapped a 126-game regular season winning streak dating to 2014. Incredible. But then again, UConn also holds the longest college basketball winning streak ever — 111 games — a number that includes NCAA tournament games. And there have been a record 11 championships, all since 1995.
Meanwhile, about 60 miles northeast of the Storrs campus sits Foxboro, Mass., home to the Patriots, who continue to do the impossible. The Patriots have won four of the last seven American Football Conference Championship games — and appeared in all seven! Win one more game and the Patriots will make it an eighth straight AFC Championship appearance, extending its franchise record. Their 10th straight playoff appearance is another record.
The Patriots have won two of the last four Super Bowls, adding to their total, now five, second only to the six won by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
And the list goes on.
In time, normality will return. With each year the competition increases in women’s college basketball. At age 64, most of UConn Coach Geno Auriemma’s coaching and recruiting days are behind him. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is 41, Coach Bill Belichick, 66.
But it isn’t over yet. Enjoy this while it lasts and never take it for granted.