Can A Team Ever Really Rise From Nothing?

Community sports teams create the foundation on which the big hitters find success, but those small teams are not always able to find fame themselves. Philly has seen countless teams rise and fall over the years; national lacrosse side The Philadelphia Wings being the latest in a generation, and, as The Philadelphia Inquirer notes, promising a lot in their hopes of finding stardom. Sports are a big deal in Philly; few other cities boast the number and quality of teams, from all of the major leagues, that it does. Rising from the bottom, however, can be difficult.

Starting small

There’s a huge amount of community level grass-roots sports going on in Philly. As Philly Mag highlights, you have 8,000 soccer players in the Casa league and 100 different sports represented in the Philadelphia Sports Leagues. Starting a new team is often simple, too, and requires little more than generating a new league-appropriate name for the community side and getting them registered with the relevant body. This is great for community-level action, but it’s less clear how teams can progress. In Europe, there are countless stories of small teams making a big dent despite having modest resources and playing squads that are only semi-professional. Unfortunately, however, resources are often key to making the reach upwards.

Financial incentive

American sports leagues do a lot to try and prevent financial doping within sports. Franchises are limited when it comes to player wages; the draft system eliminates the gigantic transfer fees seen in, for instance, European soccer; and sponsorships aren’t as lucrative as perhaps they could be, with league-wide deals often top of the pile. Nevertheless, individuals have crept into the US sports scene to give a hint at what could be available. LA Galaxy, Toronto FC, Atlanta United and LAFC are among those who have benefited from cash injections, and it has shown on the pitches; these teams have been elevated far above older franchises who got in through more modest means.

Making it big

Without financial input it can be difficult for small teams to ascend the pyramid. However, it isn’t always the case that an interested owner, or sugar daddy, with the eye for a pet project, will be the only route to obtaining that capital and climbing up the rankings. Many smaller Philly teams found the bigtime through excellence. Playing well, sticking to a proper strategy as a team, bringing new players on board with a focus on their talent – as opposed to nepotism – and running an honest operation will all foster long-term success. That will in turn attract capital, attract big fans and sponsors, and help a team to elevate itself.

After all, the biggest and best franchises in the country rarely come from new money.

The history and quality of Philly’s teams, whether that’s the Eagles – founded 1933 – or 76ers – founded 1946 as the Syracuse Nationals and moved here in 1963 – comes from their heritage.

Starting in the community and building up will set the scene for future success.

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