Logan’s Corner: Washington sports teams struggle to find their footing

Logan Earle, Staff Writer

Ever since the National’s World Series victory in 2019, Washington sports fans have been struggling to continue their support for the city’s teams. The inability of Washington’s teams to sign big named players has led to poor play and decreased fan involvement. 

Five years ago, the Washington Capitals were on top of the world as Stanley Cup Champions. The Capitals’ success continued after their Stanley Cup win, as they made the playoffs for four more seasons. Although they made it to the playoffs in the following years, they always failed to make it out of the first round. Their record \ worsened year by year as they fell from fourth in the league the year after their Stanley Cup win to 13th in 2022.

The Capitals are not the only Washington Sports team that recently won a championship. In 2019, the Washington Nationals won the World Series. But, their success did not last long. In the shortened 2020 season, they failed to make the playoffs and finished last in their division. 2021 wasn’t any different, as they once again finished last and missed the playoffs. Same story for 2022, this time also adding the worst record in the league. The loss of many players who had contributed to the World Series win were the largest factor in the failure to succeed in the years following. Juan Sota, a rising star outfielder, was traded to the San Diego Padres during the 2022 season, and Ryan Zimmerman, a long-term first baseman, retired prior to the 2022 season. The team is very different than it was when they were on top of the world in October 2019.

Going downtown to Capital One Arena, the Washington Wizards are the perfect example of mediocrity. Having not won an NBA championship since 1978, the Wizards have seen the same failures for decades. Although they have not found overall success in the NBA, the Wizards were strong contenders in the eastern conference in the mid 2010s. Through the leadership of their backcourt duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal, they had multiple impressive regular season runs.

 In the playoffs, they have made it out of the first round three times: in 2014, 2015 and 2017, as well as having two more playoff appearances in 2018 and 2021. But other than these playoff appearances, the Wizards have been ranked between 10th and 12th in the conference in the past decade. No matter what players the Wizards seem to acquire through trades and free agency, they can never take the next step past being a good team.

Moving outside of the city, the Washington Commanders have had, historically, the most success out of all the other Washington sports teams with three Super Bowl wins under their belt and many great players having worn burgundy and gold. But, since the start of the 2000s, success has not been their friend. In 1999, a businessman named Dan Snyder bought the team. 

Since his ownership, the team has made the playoffs just five times and won just one playoff game back in January 2006. The Commanders have also had the issue of being unable to acquire top level quarterbacks throughout the year– a total of 13 different quarterbacks have been the primary starting quarterback since Snyder bought the team. 

Dan Snyder is looked upon as one of the worst owners in NFL history, as there have been allegations of sexual harassment and financial improperties towards Snyder. Snyder’s tenure, revenue and fan involvement have also seen a large drop, as lack of team success and hatred towards ownership grew. However, good news for Commanders fans came in mid April, as Snyder agreed to sell the team to the Josh Harris group for just over $6 billion. Josh Harris already owns a successful sports franchise with the Philadelphia 76ers, and Commanders fans see the deal as a new chance for team success.

The biggest issue is big named players prefer to play for different cities than Washington. This is most likely due to the poor marketing these teams have. They have to make Washington the right decision for athletes in free agency. Then, they have to keep athletes happy in Washington, to increase the chances that they stay in the long-term.