F is for… Failure? Finals? Fortitude? Success and Failure in sports today – DNVR Sports

F is for… Failure? Finals? Fortitude? Success and Failure in sports today – DNVR Sports

“There’s no failure in sports. It’s not a failure, it’s steps to success. There’s good days, bad days. Some days you are able to be successful, some days you are not…and that’s what sports is about.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo

A little over a week ago, this season’s Colorado Rockies were arguably the worst baseball team in Major League history, working their way towards a record only a mother could love, with play that would even make mom embarrassed. Coming into the weekend, they own the longest active winning streak in the bigs, at seven in a row. The two teams they’ve swept are last season’s champs and a division rival that always gives them fits.

A week and a half ago, the Denver Nuggets had dropped their second game in the second round to the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the latter in unspectacular fashion. The national pundits and all who the Nuggets had harmed on last season’s romp to the Finals nearly exulted in the stumble the mighty had taken, declaring the series all but over, with a new sheriff in town. Ten days later, the Nuggets had won three in a row to be the toast of sportsdom again, only to cough up a 45 point loss to force a Game 7.

Around the same time as the Nuggets richter test, the Colorado Avalanche were the renewed terrors of the league, having taken higher-ranked Winnipeg out in the first round in five games, followed by an amazing overtime win in their first game against Dallas. A week and a half later, Colorado was more like re-nude, managing to avoid a similar gentlemen’s sweep themselves with a win after losing three in a row to the Stars.

Even Colorado’s currently inactive team has been active, with the Denver Broncos drafting Bo Nix at quarterback to a cacophony of cheers and jeers alike. While the early reviews of the “under new ownership” banner have been mixed at best, even the Broncos are hitting on bets here and there.

So, which is it? Do all of the Colorado majors suck? Or are they incredible? Are they failures? Finalists? As is often the way, the truth is bit more nuanced than all that. For instance, the Nuggets Nikola Jokic did put up the game of his career a few nights ago, right after he was told by more than one Big Diesel he didn’t deserve his MVP. Then, with his masterclass, he absolutely did. And now he probably doesn’t again after Game 6, in the eyes of the wildly swaying public opinion. And is Jamal Murray the flat tire of Games 2 and 6, or the catalyst of many of the rest? Maddeningly in the moment, he’s very clearly both.

The same is true of Avs goalie Alexandar Georgiev. He’s been so up and down of late as to be checked for a bungee cord on the side, but has he solely been failing his team in lopsided losses? Certainly it has more to do with the entire squad, not some easy-to-digest byte. The Rockies and Broncos have a litany of names to fit this model as well. And yet, each of them has to do their best to drop those failures on the way out the door, as there is yet another everything-or-nothing contest tomorrow. Or nest weekend. But certainly over and over again, season after season. As Giannis’ wise quote above states, the idea of failure is (ideally) foreign to an athlete, as the steps to the ultimate goal are rarely ever always forward. Another all-time athlete had an even clearer way to put it…

“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.”
-Arthur Ashe

When Giannis was asked the question that precipitated his answer up top, the reporter was asking the former MVP/Finals MVP/Champion whether or not the Bucks inability to win another title that year made him view the season as a failure. The same might end being asked of Jokic or any of the Denver Nuggets this year, should they fail to capture a consecutive championship.

Similar questions were tossed to last year’s Avalanche team, after failing to capture a second Cup in a row. Many of their answers revolved in a similar direction to Ashe and Antetokounmpo, with a few solid curse words sprinkled in for fun.

The Rockies have had a phalanx of tough questions to answer with their rough start, an even tougher mountain with so much a youth movement. The kids are learning to deal with the media and pressures as they learn to play ball at the pro level. But when they have, they are a lot of fun.

Even the Broncos, after seeing their last playoff action in a Super Bowl win now nearly a decade old, have had some bright moments pop up along the way, with Nix the newest curiosity to a fanbase loathe to quit their favorite team anytime soon.

The lessons each of the above are learning are that there may not be any real “ultimate” success, any more than there’s a real failure in any of the above, including whatever the Rox got up to the first month-plus of the season.

Which may be the larger point of the quotes above, and are really as applicable to life as they are to the sporting contexts they were originally applied to. You won a Championship? Bully for you and your fanbase, that will be something to celebrate for the 90-100 days you get off before it’s time to do it all over again in this what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of sports and life. You made a huge sale or changed something massively important at work? That’s amazing, here’s a pat on the back, and when can you do it all over again? Success? Perfect, but it’s usually not for long. Failure? Shame on you, but… that’s probably not for so long either.

Failure is no more final than the Finals are, and possibly even more fickle. Any of the above fanbases recall the Broncos of 2010 (4-12 finish) and the Broncos of 2015 (Super Bowl Champs). They remember the Avalanche of 2017 (22-56) and the Avalanche of 2022 (notching their third Stanley Cup win). They look back on the Nuggets of 1998 (11-71) and the Nuggets of 2023 (NBA Champs). They even recall the Rockies of 2024 (see above), and the Rockies of 2007 (their only World Series appearance).

Will any of Colorado’s team hoist a trophy this year? And if they don’t, will “we” have fully failed? If you find yourself out there feeling like you’re “failing” today, remember that you, like many of the athletes you follow, are quite probably in the midst of Giannis’ described “steps to success”. Like each of the teams above, the only real failure is when you full-stop stop trying. Get back up, dust your dusty old cowtown off, and give it another go.

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
-Nelson Mandela

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