NPR logo

Why The American Dream Is Still Alive In Sports

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/251983591/251983841" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Why The American Dream Is Still Alive In Sports

Why The American Dream Is Still Alive In Sports

Why The American Dream Is Still Alive In Sports

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/251983591/251983841" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Wesley Matthews of the Portland Trail Blazers goes up for the shot as Philadelphia 76ers defend the basket on Saturday in Philadelphia. Chris Szagola/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Chris Szagola/AP

Wesley Matthews of the Portland Trail Blazers goes up for the shot as Philadelphia 76ers defend the basket on Saturday in Philadelphia.

Chris Szagola/AP

Political innocent I may be, but I find great irony in that, while everybody agrees there is massive inequality in the United States today, it's in sports where the American dream still lives — more than ever.

It used to be, when social mobility was at its apex here, that was the reverse in sports. The leagues were invariably dominated by dynasties. The Yankees, of course, were the American pharaohs. The Celtics ruled basketball; the Canadiens, hockey; the Browns and then the Packers, football. Once it got to the top, a team or a franchise tended to stay in the social register. Bad teams, most often in the smaller cities, remained a permanent underclass.

But now, with salary caps and benevolent socialism, if a team has wise management, it has a chance — even if it's a franchise in an itsy-bitsy market. Can you believe that the four teams with the best records in the NBA are Indiana, Portland, San Antonio and Oklahoma City — representing four of the 10 smallest metropolitan markets in the league?

Click on the audio link above to hear Deford's take on this issue.