Never again may not be a fair measurement


A few years ago, I wrote an article that looked at reports and articles and claims and more about accomplishments in sports that were presented as moments that would never happen again. At the heart of the piece were events taking place during the 2012 Olympics, with thoughts exploring elements that I believe have become standard and routine media practice:

(1) A rush to write/create a story

(2) Getting swept up in the hysteria of the moment

(3) A desire to incorporate talking points (potentially by being controversial and creating the talking points out of thin air rather than actual considerations)

And overall, it was an attempt at looking into ways that these factors tend to result in journalism-of-the-moment as opposed to providing any lasting or worthwhile effort. For instance, the avalanche of stories about whether or not a champion will repeat.

Super Bowl winners are crowned on Sunday evenings in the United States. By Monday morning, media outlets on television, radio, internet and newsstands are already overflowing with articles about the winner winning again.

The original article of mine focused primarily on the beach volleyball team of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings. And, one of my thoughts involved how a sport that had at the time the long and legendary historical background of five Olympic appearances with medals at stake hardly had been around long enough for reporters to be making claims about the dominance offered up by Misty and Kerri as unapproachable.

Since that time though, a different thought has been swimming around in my mind. Is it even fair to wonder if something significant could ever happen again (or be topped)?

When the Pittsburgh Steelers win the Super Bowl in 1980, there were twenty-eight professional teams. There are thirty-two now.

Yogi Berra was one of the most celebrated baseball players in history. When he won his last championship as a player in 1962, there were twenty professional teams… including the Washington Senators and Houston Colt .45s, along with the Kansas City Athletics and Milwaukee Braves.

When the Cleveland Cavilers won the title in 2016, part of the story was how the city hadn’t won a professional championship in more than fifty years.

Is any of this so amazing? Really? Consider…

If we went on a run where every NFL team in the league today won a championship before any of the teams won a second, it would take us thirty-two years to cover that ground.

More than three decades. And the stories are similar throughout sports. Even just getting each team to the World Series once would take us fifteen years.

Is it out of the question that lengthy droughts such as those experienced by the Red Sox and Cubs will not happen again? Of course not. Thirty-plus years to get every team a title if we split them up fairly and evenly… which is not how it works, but basically means once in a generation if it did. That never again perspective actually has difficulties because of course, many things could happen again.

Still, when we are treated to runs of stellar players and organizations, never again is harder to measure and define. And that’s before even wondering about whether or not comparing a team or athlete from today’s games to teams and athletes from generations ago is fair.

Yes… Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings… Johnny Vander Meer… there are records requiring unreal runs of virtual perfection. It’s hard to think that they might be approached, matched, or surpassed.

I do believe it’s fair to wonder if the media and more pull out the debates a bit too early. Never again… odds of a repeat… and so on. Actually, as I write that I realize it isn’t fair to wonder if they do, because it is a fact that they do.

More importantly though, I think it’s up to us to appreciate the attempts at greatness. The stories. What is happening, as it’s happening, and the end accomplishments. Because the play of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots… the run of playing in the finals from LeBron James… women’s basketball at UConn… we may never see careers and achievements like this again.


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at