“Believeland”: How Cleveland became the epicenter of professional sports

Henry Schweber

For the past half-century the city of Cleveland has become a joke in the sports world.

Something that residents of Cleveland know far too well is “the curse.” To them, it’s almost been a sign of acceptance: that their sports teams would be doomed with bad play for eternity. For quite some time, it seemed as though that may have been true.

The Cleveland sports curse started after the Browns defeated the Baltimore Colts in the 1964 NFL Championship Game (this was before the Super Bowl was created). Since then, there has been a longstanding drought in the city for major sports victories.

That began to change two years ago, however, when LeBron James made his return to his home state. To the people of Cleveland, LeBron’s return brought hope to an otherwise dismayed city. To them, LeBron was Cleveland.

So when he was able to bring them a championship when the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the almighty record-setting Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals, it seemed as though the curse had been broken.

However, that wasn’t enough.

The Cleveland Indians, long regarded as a middling MLB franchise, pieced together a talented young roster the past couple of seasons, led by former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber. In many aspects, the Indians roster is very different than that of the Cavaliers as there was no one guy to rally around. Everyone on this team plays a specific role, with everyone being valued equally.

A main similarity between the two rosters, however, is the heart exuberated by both franchises. After being in turmoil for so long, being able to reach down and get something special out of each individual player is remarkable, and has led the Indians to being in the World Series.

For once, there is no longer a curse to be broken, but instead a legacy to be created.

None of this would be possible if these teams didn’t maintain that same fighting attitude as a struggling team would. No matter their records, these Cleveland teams always gave it their all, putting their heart and soul into every pitch, shot, pass and movement.

The Cleveland Cavaliers dominance looks poised to continue this season, with LeBron stuffing the stat sheet en route to a triple-double on opening night against the New York Knicks.

And with the Cleveland Indians nearing their first World Series title since 1948 as well, the future of Cleveland sports looks very promising.

Who knows, maybe even the Browns will start winning soon too.