10 Great Sports Problems to Have

Laura Depta@lauradeptaFeatured ColumnistOctober 19, 2016

10 Great Sports Problems to Have

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    The Dallas Cowboys have a problem. They must decide if they should stick with their rookie sensation quarterback Dak Prescott upon the return of injured franchise guy Tony Romo. Or not.

    What a fantastic problem to have! They have not one, but two solid QBs (cue jealous eye rolling from Cleveland Browns fans).

    The Cowboys aren't the only team in sports with one of those "good problems." In fact, it's not just teams who experience positive and (mildly) negative effects from the same situation. For instance, Alabama fans have to deal with mostly boring blowouts, but then again, please. Bama fans are stoked right now.

    Teams, players and fans all deal with problems in sports—the following 10 are simply of the great variety.

    No one likes you, Boston fans? It's because your teams can't stop winning championships? Not a bad problem to have.

Losing Players to the Pros

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    Problem for: College programs

    According to Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari, Senator Mitch McConnell once told him, "You're creating more millionaires than a Wall Street firm," per CoachCal.com.

    Indeed, Calipari announced in March all eligible Wildcats would declare for the NBA draft. In the end, three were selected by NBA teams.

    One might think losing players early is a bad thing for college coaches, but then again, consider the implications for recruiting.

    Two players from Providence College were selected in the 2016 NBA draft—guard Kris Dunn (Minnesota Timberwolves) and forward Ben Bentil (Boston Celtics).

    In March, Providence coach Ed Cooley pointed out, "It's a positive thing in the long-term. It's not every time that we have the opportunity to coach two pros. That's a great problem to have and certainly something we can use in recruiting," per Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal.

Hate Us Cuz You Ain't Us

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    Problem for: Fans

    Sports fans have problems too. As any New York Yankees or Manchester United fan will tell you, winning doesn't exactly earn points among outsiders.

    Take Boston, for example. In the past 10 years alone, all four of Boston's big four pro teams have brought home a title—the Boston Bruins in 2011, the Boston Red Sox in 2007 and 2013, the New England Patriots in 2014 and the Boston Celtics in 2008.

    Asked by ESPN's Jemele Hill why he thinks Boston fans are perceived as annoying, actor and Massachusetts native John Krasinski said (via Bryanna Cappadona of Boston.com), "I guess you guys hate winning and legacy and dynasty teams. ... We have this way of winning that's really annoying."

    And it's ongoing. Just in the month of October, Boston fans have dealt with the Big Papi retirement tour/Red Sox playoff push, a super-hyped Celtics team that Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post said "might be the best suited to knock [the Cleveland Cavaliers] off" and Tom Brady's triumphant return to the still stellar 5-1 Pats.

    Luke Kerr-Dineen of For the Win wrote, "Boston sports fans think the world is against them, but have a candid conversation with any of them and they'll admit they're the most spoiled, happiest fan base around."

No. 1 Draft Pick

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    Problem for: Teams

    To hold the No. 1 draft pick is to be responsible for a major decision. Teams want to choose the right investment for the future—and they really don't want to mess it up.

    Take a look at the Los Angeles Rams, for instance. They traded everything but the kitchen sink to the Tennessee Titans to secure the No. 1 pick in 2016 and used it on quarterback Jared Goff. To call it a mistake would be premature, but the facts remain. Goff has yet to see NFL game action, while No. 2 pick Carson Wentz looks solid for the Philadelphia Eagles (1,186 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception in five games).

    There wasn't much surprise when the Philadelphia 76ers took Ben Simmons No. 1 overall in the 2016 NBA draft, but let's rewind to 2003. The Detroit Pistons took center Darko Milicic at No. 2 over future All-Stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Milicic is no longer in the NBA and has been dubbed one of the biggest draft busts of all time.

    Still, a pressure-packed choice is a good problem to have when it's at the top of the draft. Do these Sixers fans look upset to you?

Scheduling Conflicts

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Problem for: Fans

    Scheduling conflicts are a real bummer. Then again, if a lot of great sports are available, that's a good problem to have, right?

    Take the MLB playoffs and college football, for example. In mid-October, a thrilling Ohio State vs. Wisconsin matchup coincided with Game 1 of the National League Championships Series between the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers. What to watch?!

    Perhaps one of the best examples in recent memory came on one fateful night in April. The Golden State Warriors were playing for an unprecedented 73rd win, a victory that would (and did) move them past the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls for winningest regular-season NBA team of all time.

    At the exact same time, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was busy scoring 60 points in the final game of his 20-year career.

    Twitter could not deal.

Free-Agent Decisions

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    Problem for: Players

    Big-time free agents have to make big-time decisions. And when more than one team is interested, the athlete always leaves someone disappointed.

    For example, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos was a jewel of NHL free agency in 2016. There were several other teams in the mix, however, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres. There were rumors the Sabres would go as high as $12 million per year, per TSN's Darren Dreger (via Chris Nichols of todaysslapshot.com). 

    Stamkos ultimately re-signed with the Lightning on an eight-year deal worth an average of $8.5 million per year.

    Or consider Al Horford. The NBA big man signed a four-year, $113 million max contract with the Boston Celtics despite interest from the Washington Wizards and his previous team, the Atlanta Hawks.

    Choosing between multiple suitors, all of whom can pay millions, would be a challenge for any athlete—but obviously a beneficial one as well.   

High Expectations

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    Problem for: Teams

    On the Golden State Warriors' offseason acquisition of Kevin Durant, Bleacher Report's Michael Pina wrote, "But no matter how loaded this Golden State squad looks on July 4, nothing is guaranteed. The Warriors are the presumptive favorite to win it all next season, but they'll attempt to do so with more pressure than any organization has ever faced."

    Also, consider these points: 

    • Since the first AP college football preseason poll in 1950, 10 preseason No. 1 teams have gone on to win the title—a decent number, but far from the majority.
    • In the history of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, seven teams have gone undefeated and won the national title, but none have achieved the feat since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
    • The Chicago Cubs have been the favorites to win the World Series since April, per OddsShark.com, but obviously there are no guarantees.

    To be highly ranked or a preseason favorite is a heavy burden. That said, it also indicates a level of...well, goodness. So it can't be all bad. 

Talent Affecting Chemistry?

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    Problem for: Teams

    Speaking of the Golden State Warriors—success in sports isn't all about talent. It's about chemistry too.

    Will the addition of former league MVP Kevin Durant disrupt the flow of a team that won 73 regular-season games in 2015-16?

    Bleacher Report's Erik Malinowski wrote, "When chemistry is at its most organic, it's invisible to outsiders and impossible to stop. This is the challenge that awaits the Warriors this coming season. They're still in the first throes of a process that, for the most part, revolves around integrating Kevin Durant's game into that of a trio of pre-existing All-Stars."

    Or take the 2016 Ryder Cup, for example. In response to Davis Love III's assertion that the U.S. team was "the best golf team maybe ever assembled," English golfer Lee Westwood fired back, telling ESPN (via CNN.com): "There seem to have been issues about team spirit and chemistry."

    Chemistry is a concern, for sure, but if it's a concern because there is just so much talent in the room…then you know. Boo hoo.


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    Problem for: Fans

    Sports fans generally want to see exciting games, right? Well, consider the following.  

    The Alabama Crimson Tide football team has defeated its seven 2016 opponents by an average of 30.4 points per game.

    Here's another. The UConn women's basketball team put up the following scores in the 2016 NCAA tournament:

    • 101-49 over Robert Morris
    • 97-51 over Duquesne
    • 98-38 over Mississippi State
    • 86-65 over Texas
    • 80-51 over Oregon State
    • 82-51 over Syracuse

    That's amazing. It could also be deemed a bit boring, right?

    Don't misunderstand. The accomplishments of these teams are incredible and should be respected as such. Yet, for fans, blowout games or series aren't generally the most entertaining.

    And yet, does anyone think fans in Connecticut or Tuscaloosa are complaining?

Quarterback Controversy

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    Problem for: Teams

    Though "controversy" doesn't generally imply anything good, that's exactly what the Dallas Cowboys have at the quarterback position, and rest assured, it's not a bad thing.

    Longtime Cowboys QB Tony Romo went down with a back injury in the preseason, and rookie sensation Dak Prescott has stepped in beautifully. The Cowboys are 5-1 sans Romo, and Prescott has impressed, completing 68.7 percent of his passes for 1,486 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception.

    Romo has not yet returned to the practice field, but it's only a matter of time before he is declared healthy. At that point, the Cowboys will face a decision—put Romo back under center, or stick with the rookie? Sure, one could call the situation a bit awkward (especially given the growing number of folks on Team Dak), but obviously it's better to have two solid QBs than none.

    Cowboys owner Jerry Jones even called it a "wonderful problem" and a "miracle problem," during an interview with 105.3 The Fan (via Cameron DaSilva of Fox Sports).


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    Problem for: Teams

    Related to the QB controversy is the more general "problem" of depth. When a team has immense depth on a particular unit or at a particular position, it means solid players will sit on the bench or, at minimum, be utilized differently.

    Take the Buffalo Bills, for instance. Their defense has considerable depth at multiple positions—such as cornerback and outside linebacker. Upon his return from a shoulder injury, rookie linebacker (and first-round draft pick) Shaq Lawson will not start. His replacement, Lorenzo Alexander, leads the NFL in sacks through Week 6.

    Or look at the Chicago Cubs. Their rotation depth is such that last year's ace and National League Cy Young winner, Jake Arrieta, is pitching in the No. 3 spot. The regular-season ERA for each of the team's first three starters in 2016 was 2.13 (Kyle Hendricks), 2.44 (Jon Lester) and 3.10 (Arrieta).

    Now that's a great problem to have.