Friday, November 20, 2009

Business needs a Broncos win

Colorado's business community needs a Broncos' win against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

I have learned since arriving in the state in 1988, the morale of Colorado business takes a cue from the success of the Denver Broncos, and I have come to believe that the success of all the state's professional sports teams seems to set a tone for the success of the entire state.

I know that sounds crazy, but give me a listen.

When I was the night city editor of the Denver Post, I would drive to work on Sundays at a time when those lucky enough to attend Broncos games had already found their parking spots at Mile High Stadium, and the rest of the city was already positioned in front of its TV sets.

Central Denver was hushed and quiet in the middle of the day, waiting the kickoff.

After a loss, on Monday's in the middle of the day, the city was almost as quiet and palpably depressed.

Then the Avalanche came to town and promptly won the city's first national professional sports title. The Broncos followed with two consecutive Super Bowl championships (it should have been three, but the Broncs were beaten by Jacksonville in the first year they also should have won the championship, which, with the next two wins, would have made history).

The Rockies made the playoffs early on and two years ago went to the World Series. The Nuggets made the playoffs several times since I have been in Colorado, but never with as strong a team as they have now, one with a realistic opportunity to take an NBA championship.

Yet it's the Broncos that still set the tone, and you could feel that already this year when they surprisingly won six games in a row as Colorado was feeling the first little urges of a national business recovery. Once again, the state was leading the nation and gathering praise for its growing alternative energy industry, school reform and even health-care delivery on the Western Slope.

Then the Broncos lost to Baltimore. Winter had come early. National unemployment hit 10 percent. Stimulus dollars were being reported to have hired way too many people than seemed realistic.

And the Broncos dropped two more, while the Chargers kept winning.

For some reason, the Broncos and other winning sports franchises in Colorado seem to inspire business and political leadership in the state. There's no objective proof for that, but the winning lifts a burden that winter's snow and cold often impose.

Colorado needs the Broncos to beat the Chargers at home to show the state's business and political communities that the team's improvement over the off-season wasn't just a mirage. And that the inklings of economic improvement in Colorado weren't just false positives.

When the state's professional sports teams are winning, Coloradans, their business leaders and their political leaders are energized. And right now, Colorado cannot afford to let its energy and leadership slip.

Business needs a Broncos win on Sunday.

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