In any sport there are three major ways to build a successful sports franchise. The ultimate goal is winning, but the way to get there can be broken down into these three ways:
Buy the Team Now
Most associated with teams like the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Lakers, buying a championship has a history of being the most successful. However, when it doesn’t work it can set the franchise back a few years.
This is a very self-explanatory way of building a successful franchise. General Managers pay big dollars to the best free agents to come to the team in the offseason. They trade younger players who have yet to prove themselves for more established stars. This not only comes with a high insurance policy that you will make the playoffs; it also makes your team an instant villain.
When LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Duane Wade on the Miami Heat it was this same basic strategy except the players were the ones making the moves. The NBA is unique in that way where the players usually have more say than the people who actually have the responsibility of running the team.
Destroy Then Rebuild
The rebuilding process for any sports franchise can be a difficult one. Television blackouts in football, ushers inviting fans from the upper deck to come closer to the field in baseball, and permanently being the Buffalo Sabres in hockey are all a part of the process. However, if the plan goes right then you look like a genius.
The most famous destroy then rebuild belongs to the Florida Marlins, now known as the Miami Marlins. They slowly built their way up to a championship in 1997 only to immediately sell-off the team the next season. It took them until 2003 when, once again, they won the championship thanks to mostly homegrown cheap talent.
This strategy is probably most valuable in basketball as one player can make a difference. Each season teams will tank in hopes of getting a better draft pick. This can work partially in football as a great quarterback will turn a team around. For baseball and hockey, you are better off going with the final strategy if you are unwilling to pay for a win.
Find the Missing Pieces
Anomalies happen from time to time in sports and a team nobody expected to make a playoff run will find themselves looking to add a few missing pieces at the trade deadline. There is also the other possibility that in the offseason the owner decides to spend some extra money and make a charge toward a championship.
Finding the missing pieces might be the most difficult strategy to go with. Buying your team is immediate and anyone can do it. Rebuilding is a long process and when the team finishes in last place for another consecutive season all you have to do is say the plan is still ongoing. Searching for those players to plug into your lineup to get you over the hump is the riskiest maneuver, but with the most payoff.
The majority of teams actually win with this way of thinking as it seems to be the most affordable. It’s important for a team to first build a core then bring in outside help. This is cheap, reliable, and arguably the best way to sustain success. As any fan knows, one championship is never enough.