Success After 26 Years of Losing

CalTech has had 32 Nobel Prize winners on its faculty, but in sports they are just a bunch of losers. The college basketball team had lost every conference game for 26 straight years; 310 games of futility against local colleges in southern California like Whittier and Cal Lutheran.

In baseball they have lost 412 conference games in a row. Why do kids even go out for teams that never win? This is the The Bad News Bears to the tenth power.

CalTech finally won a Conference game on January 29th against Occidental (Barack Obama’s alma mater). Should we applaud their fortitude and perseverance, or castigate them for stinking up their league with such pathetic teams?

I do have some sympathy for the CalTechers, being a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan. The Cubs were last in the World Series in 1945 and have not won the Championship since 1908, the days of Tinkers to Evers to Chance.

To fail is human. To fail and fail and fail and keep on trying is heroic, or is it mad?

Perhaps conferences and even pro sports should adopt the incentive system employed in European soccer in which teams that consistently fail to be competitive are dropped to a lower quality league and replaced by aspiring minor league teams. I understand the NBA is considering this idea. If the New Jersey Nets or LA Clippers were to finish last three years in a row maybe they could be replaced by a D-League team like the Idaho Stampede or Bakersfield Jam.

In baseball it could be an incentive for a Pittsburgh or Kansas City to stop living off the luxury tax money from the Yankees and Red Sox and actually develop a team.

As for the CalTech Beavers, hooray for winning a basketball game. If I were them, I’d stick to Intra-murals.

Question: If your business kept losing money, how long would it take for you to call it quits?

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4 thoughts on “Success After 26 Years of Losing

  1. Kim

    I applaud them. Of course everybody wants to win, but I’m sure most of them are in it for the fun of it. It’s not like they’re at CalTech on basketball scholarships and need to prove something. If they were a Division I team – then sure, castigate them on their record. But they’re not.
    It also doesn’t compare at all with professional teams that don’t perform well. The players on professional teams are there for one reason – to play ball. Playing basketball for CalTech students is certainly not their primary reason for being there.

  2. Don Rozino

    I find inspiration in our Federal government. They lose Millions every year, but somehow manage to stay in business.

  3. Jim

    Academics and sports, and new product development failure is OK. I applaud there perserverance! In a way, this is a lot like like product development and doing something that has never been done before, keep trying! I wish we could draw comparison to failure in product development with respect to the process steps it takes to the product working right, and then starting the new journey of getting it work in a manufacturing environment and affordable and profitable, seems if we could speed up the process of failing, ie., losing 412 baseball games in a day to reach success, now we are onto something, less cost, best performance and quicker to market is always a good thing!


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