Where is the love?
Well, it was a winning weekend for the Atlanta sports teams. The Braves swept the Expos in games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and the Falcons beat the 49ers in San Francisco yesterday afternoon. But does anyone in this town really even care?
Sure, there were moderate crowds at Turner Field for the Expos series, and the Atlanta ratings for the Falcons game probably weren’t awful. But fans here just don’t get fired up for regular-season games. The Braves have an 8 and 1/2 game lead over the Marlins right now, and seem to be heading for their umpteenth straight division title. This should be a major surprise to most Atlantans. The team lost almost all of their big names over the last two years–they should be rebuilding, not dominating. Not only do locals not seem to be surprised, they don’t even seem to care. The biggest baseball story in Atlanta this weekend was the DUI arrest of shortstop Rafael Furcal, and that didn’t even get as much attention as it should have, this close to the postseason.
The Falcons, on the other hand, are experiencing a bit more buzz, thanks to the return of Michael Vick. Due to a poor preseason showing and a mediocre first outing in SF, however, that buzz is already being replaced with cautious disinterest or even total apathy. Depending on the opponent, Falcons games may start to see a ratings drop in this town, just like last year.
What’s with the ATL when it comes to sports? I don’t expect much interest in the Hawks (whose management can’t make a single good decision where players or coaches are concerned), or the Thrashers (they’re up-and-coming, but they’re still a hockey team in a southern city). But the Braves are headed for the postseason once again and the Falcons are a possible wild card team as long as Vick remains healthy. Shouldn’t the city be rallying behind these teams?
I grew up not far from Chicago, where fans are fanatical no matter what kind of season the teams are having. And, with the exception of Jordan’s reign and one Super Bowl year, there have been some pretty barren seasons. The Cubs NEVER win their division or go to the World Series, yet Wrigley Field sells out constantly. And ‘da Bears’ have possibly the least amount of offensive talent in the NFL, yet you have to fight for a seat at the new Soldier Field.
In Atlanta, you can buy Braves tickets at the gate no matter who they’re playing, and I can consistently find Falcons season ticket holders desperately trying to unload their seats on my company’s bulletin boards.
What’s up, Atlanta? Where is the love?