5,000 to 1

Update … With the Tottenham 2-2 draw with Chelsea, Leicester City has won the Premier League title …

While my wife will argue vociferously to the contrary, I am not a crazed sports fan.

Devoted to the Buffs? Yes, I plead guilty.

But other sports? Not so much.

I have a strong history with the NFL, but I admittedly don’t pay much attention to the NBA, NHL, and major league baseball until they reach their respective post-seasons.

And soccer?

Here is a quick summary of my knowledge of soccer:

— Names of players with which I am familiar: Pele; David Beckham; Mia Hamm; and Hope Solo (I would have thrown in Brandi Chastain, but since I had to Google her to make sure I spelled her name right, I don’t think that counts);

— Teams which I can name without additional assistance: Manchester United and Arsenal (I don’t know any MLS teams, though I do have a peripheral knowledge of Portland and Seattle having successful and – relatively – popular franchises);

— The last soccer match I watched: The U.S. women’s soccer World Cup finals victory over Japan a year or two ago;

— The last soccer match I watched before that: The last game the U.S. men’s team played in the World Cup a year or two before that.

That being the case, why was I channel-surfing Sunday morning, looking for an update on a regular season Premier League matchup between Manchester United and Leicester City?

Because of a story I heard on the radio earlier this week.

It seems that Leicester City was traveling to play Manchester United on Sunday with a chance to wrap up the Premier League title …

– So far, I’m not that interested –

… with the victory securing Leicester City’s first top league championship … in 132 years.

Okay, now I’m interested.

Leicester City entered the match with 76 points in Premier League play, with a healthy seven point lead over second place Tottenham. With only a handful of games left in the season, a win by the “Foxes” of Leicester City would clinch the title for a team which had only finished second once before (in 1929, during the reign of King George V).

For those of you who, like me, have been uninformed as what has been going on in the Premier League this spring, I provide the following background to this improbable run by Leicester (pronounced “Les-ter”) City’s run:

Two years ago, Leicester City was so lousy, the Foxes failed merit a spot in the Premier League. A year ago, Leicester City needed a torrid winning streak at the end of the season to avoid being relegated back to the second division (relegation is the equivalent of being sent down to the minors. Think: Philadelphia Phillies being sent down to AAA, replaced in the National League East by the Toledo Mud Hens, or – perish the thought – CU being relegated to the Mountain West Conference, replaced in the Pac-12 by Boise State).

Instead of folding last spring, Leicester City went on a winning streak, preserving a spot in the Premier League this season. Still, the bookmakers were not impressed, giving the Foxes a 5000:1 chance of winning the title this spring.

To give some perspective on those odds … The “Miracle Mets” were given 100:1 odds against winning the 1969 World Series. Doing the math, that means the chances of Leicester City winning the Premier League was considered 50 times more improbable that what the Mets accomplished in 1969.

Other odds to shed some light on what the Foxes are doing: Hugh Hefner admitting he’s a virgin (1,000 to 1), Simon Cowell becoming prime minister (500 to 1), Elvis Presley found alive (2,000 to 1). If you are looking to place a bet on an event as unlikely as a Leicester championship, you can get 5000 to 1 odds on the Loch Ness monster be proven to exist.

Yes, this is the story of what Britain’s Guardian is calling “quite possibly the most unlikely triumph in the history of team sport”.

The stage was set Sunday afternoon, with Leicester City traveling to the home of the New York Yankees of the Premier League, Manchester United. What better place to complete the unlikely run that at a stadium known as the “Theater of Dreams”?

Alas, it didn’t come to pass, with Leicester City and Manchester United playing to a 1-1 draw. Still, the Foxes earned another point, and can wrap up the title Monday if Tottenham fail (apparently its to be read as a plural, like data) to defeat Chelsea on Monday. Otherwise, a victory at home over Everton will do the trick.

All this is fine and good, but it does beg the question:

Why am I so interested in this Cinderella story?

Because we all love to cheer for the underdog. Pity the American League team who wins a pennant this fall, only to find themselves facing the Chicago Cubs. If the Cubs make it to the World Series this fall (and many pundits see that as a real possibility), it will mark the first time the North Siders have made it to the Series since 1945, with a chance to win it for the first time since 1908.

You want to talk about “America’s Team”? Trying cheering against the Cubs if they make it to the World Series this October.

Still, even if they do, the Cubs story falls short of what the Foxes are about to accomplish. After all, Chicago at least made it to the World Series in 1945 (not to mention 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935 and 1938). That’s nothing compared to the 0-for-132 year drought suffered by the fans of Leicester City.

Which brings me back to our Buffs.

According to vegasinsider.com, Colorado is a 1000 to 1 shot to win the 2016 national championship. That puts the Buffs in the same betting neighborhood as teams like Cincinnati, Duke, Northwestern, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri. A Colorado championship, at least in betting parlance, is about as likely to work out as Hugh Hefner admitting he is a virgin.

So, considering that Colorado is five times more likely to win the national championship than Leicester City was to win the Premier League mean that I am predicting it will happen?

No. Of course not.

What I am saying … and what drew me to this story … is that Buff fans have to keep the faith, and retain hope.

On a day where the headline could have been, “CU has had more arrests this week (2) than NFL draft picks in the past three years (1)“, it’s not easy to rally.

It’s been 15 years since Colorado won a conference championship. It seems like eons, but it’s nothing compared to what the fans of Leicester City have endured.

And now the fans of the Foxes are having their day in the sun. We can live vicariously through their joy for the moment, knowing the Buffs are on the rise, and we will have our moments of exhilaration and unabashed joy in the not too distant future.

In sports, 5000 to 1 shots can pay off.

That’s why we watch.



Someday soon, Buff fans will also be able to sing at the top of their lungs about being “top of the league”

2 Replies to “5000 to 1”

  1. Nice story. I am looking forward to this coming season and feel that the Buffs will surprise many. Preseason Koolaid on my part? Perhaps. But there are a lot of positives: overall maturity and leadership (senior and junior laden group), some talented incoming recruits at skill positions who could play right away and make a difference, an improving defense that could be great this season, and a new co-offensive coordinator who brings changes, creativity (redzone help please), and enthusiasm. Some article I read recently said that the Buffs have “made an art form” of coming close. With the combined effect of the aforementioned factors, there should be enough to tilt some games into the win column. Would I be so enthusiastic as to bet on the Buffs being in the top national picture? No. But could they make some noise in the South and even be in the Pac 12 South picture in November? It would not surprise me. Go Buffs!

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