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Globetrotters, let the Generals win

By Nathan Thomas, George Washington High School

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There comes a time when, despite the odds, the underdog rises up and claims victory, creating an upset. It happened in 1919 when the racehorse Upset defeated the then unbeaten Man o' War (which is commonly believed to have coined the sports term "upset"), and when the U.S. Olympic hockey team beat Russia for the gold in 1980.

For a certain basketball team, it happened in 1971, but it hasn't happened since.

I'm talking about the Washington Generals, the team that is best known for playing -- and losing to -- the Harlem Globetrotters. I'm also talking about them rising above their mighty Harlem foe and beating them for the first time in 42 years.

Before I continue, I should point out that I know the games are basically the WWE of the basketball world. They're fixed. They're more planned and better executed than the 1919 fixed-World Series. But even in fixed sports, the smaller guy wins eventually.

Excuse the "sports-is-life" metaphor, but the losing streak of the Washington Generals represents a pattern each of us go through in life: try, fail, repeat. The only difference between us and the Generals is that, unlike us, the Generals have never given up.

They've had many reasons to, but they haven't. Despite not being on the TV show "The New Scooby Doo Movies" or the made-for-TV movie "The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island," the Generals just have not given up.

To my knowledge, the Globetrotters and Generals each have two squads that tour concurrently. As one squad played in Charleston this past Tuesday, another played in Kissimmee, Fla.

This means the Generals lose twice a night, more than 300 nights a year. In fact the Globetrotters' current win-loss record is 24,665 wins to 345 losses. Only one of those losses occurred during a touring exhibition game. (The Globetrotters sometimes play competition games against college teams.)

In baseball, the Washington Nationals have a thing called the Presidents Race, where people in presidential mascot costumes race each other. For seven years, Theodore Roosevelt never won; Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln would always beat him.

Last year, a fan movement called Let Teddy Win changed this, and now he has won. Fans and losers alike should join together in a similar fashion here: Let The Generals Win.

On a business level, I'm one to believe the Harlem Globetrotters aren't as relevant as they use to be. Having the Generals beat them might be good publicity and get people to remember that, hey, these guys are here.

But on a personal level, as Tom Petty once said, "Even the losers get lucky sometime." (Full disclosure: I may still be a little bummed that I lost $20 betting for the Generals to win Tuesday.)


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