WHY ATLANTA FANS DON’T DESERVE A WIN
It seems most of America outside of New England is rooting for the Atlanta Falcons in this years Super Bowl. More accurately, most are rooting against our Patriots.
There is one factor these misguided folks are missing when choosing sides in Super Bowl 51, fan devotion. Atlanta has always been a horrible professional sports town and its fan base simply does not deserve a championship! It has been this way forever.
Here’s some personal history.
In May of 1995 I was in Atlanta for a week on business. Our group stayed at the CNN Omni hotel next door to the Omni Coliseum and we discovered that the Atlanta Hawks were playing an NBA playoff game against the Indiana Pacers. Unsure whether we could get tickets to a playoff game we ventured over to the Coliseum. There was barely a line at the ticket office. By the end of the first quarter the place was still only 50% full and so quiet you could hear conversations from two sections away. My recollection is that the final attendance was about 70% of capacity. As a Celtics season ticket holder during that time I
was astounded and appalled by this apathy.
A few nights later we decided to head over to Fulton Field to see if we could get in to see the Atlanta Braves versus the Philadelphia Phillies. The pitching matchup was Greg Maddux against Curt Schilling a dream pairing sure to draw a large crowd. As we neared the ticket booths we were approached by a scalper offering good seats. When we started bartering a security guard hustled over to speak to us. Thoughts of headlines reading, “New England executives nabbed in scalping raid.” raced thru my mind.
Instead the guard simply said, “ Could you move this transaction a little down the street?”
We slinked away and continued our negotiations. At Fenway Park you would always expect to pay a steep premium for scalped tickets to a big game. Not in Atlanta. There was a poorly disguised desperation in the sellers pitch. We wound up paying a total of $20 for four seats a dozen rows behind the Braves dugout!
I’ve wondered how Boston and Atlanta can be so different in their passion for professional sports. One reason may be long institutional memories. The Boston Celtics have always been the Boston Celtics and the Boston Red Sox have always been the Boston Red Sox. We New England baby boomers fondly recall Ted Williams, Jackie Jensen and Jimmy Piersall from the Sox and Bob Cousy, Bill Russell and Bill Sharman of the Celts, heroes during our impressionable childhood years.
The Braves, on the other hand, began in Boston, moved to Milwaukee then landed in Atlanta. Their long ago mythic heroes, Hank Aaron, Eddie Matthews and Warren Spahn spent their glory years in Milwaukee. Likewise, the only Hawks NBA championship was in 1958 when the team played in St. Louis. Names like Bob Pettit and Cliff Hagan mean nothing to the citizens of Atlanta.
Another factor may be the large number of transplants, many northerners, who have invaded Atlanta since the 1980s. In some sections of the city you must search to discern a true Southern accent. Hard core Pats, Celts and Sox fans are life long New Englanders who love their teams even more than their chowda!
A final, significant, reason for the lack of enthusiasm given the Atlanta pro teams is the regions passion for other sporting events especially college football and NASCAR. Whereas Boston College football has had only a couple of years of rabid fan following, the Flutie factor, the NCAA’s Georgia Bulldogs program is revered. Sports talk radio shows in the South, as they exist, spend an inordinate amount of air time discussing pit crew times and checkered flags.
Still, these are all flimsy excuses for the present day lethargy of the Atlanta fans towards their professional franchises.
The hardy New Englanders who brave frigid temperatures, howling snowstorms and two hour parking lot traffic jams to cheer on their Patriots deserve to have another February duck boat victory parade through the historic streets of Boston !
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