I once read a memoir by an English professor whose younger brother was serving a life sentence in prison. When this younger brother was in elementary school a teacher posted a chart with the names of all the pupils. If a child did something that pleased the teacher a star was placed after her or his name; an act that displeased the teacher led to loss or a star. The name with the most stars went to the top of the list; the name with the fewest stars went to the bottom. When little brother saw that his name could never get to the top of the list he determined that his would be at the bottom. It was hard work but he achieved his goal. I have often wondered whether he had little fans cheering him on.
The Baltimore Orioles are on course to become the losingest team in modern MLB history. With the season only two-thirds over they have already lost 92 games. Sports writers have already commented that an unusually high number of teams could 'tank" this season. Kansas City has lost 90 games. the White Sox, 79, (and over in the National League) San Diego 81, and Miami 78. I have totally lost interest in the Yankess, with the second best record; and i have almost lost interest in my beloved Cubs who lead the Central Division of the National League. My interest in the Cubs will pick up if and when they look like they have a chance at the pennant; but right now my focus is on watching to see if Baltimore "wins" last place and wondering if they can set a "record" for games lost.
I wonder if this is an overlooked dysfunction of highly competitive social systems. Maybe that is why so many of us have given up (suicide rates and homelessness are up) and why so many others seem to be trying for last place. The Senators, the team that represents our national capitol, seem to given up although at the time they made that decision they had won half their games; and, in theory, could have overcome their third place position to take their division,