Forbes recently published a list of the most miserable sports cities in the US. It’s an interesting list that has two cities I have lived in on it (Seattle at number 1, and Atlanta at number 2.) Add to that how long I lived near San Francisco and I seem to be attracted to cities with awful sports history. The formula they used to determine the list is interesting and I have no problem with it, except there is one thing I wouldn’t do, and that’s put Seattle at number 1.
Based on the numbers, it’s hard to argue that Seattle and Atlanta don’t belong at the top of the list. One Championship for Atlanta in 153 pro sports seasons? And that’s including a terrible run in the 90’s where the Braves kept falling just short? The Mariners had an other worldly 2001 season only to lose to the Yankees? Both terrible situations to be sure, and I’m not denying those cities have had awful luck, but can a city be considered a miserable sports city if the fans don’t actually care? Or actually exist?
I lived in Seattle for a little over 3 years, and in that time one thing stood out to me more than anything. Nobody really cared about the cities sports teams! I’m not talking about how there were a lot of bandwagon fans, although that was absolutely true, as I never met one real Seahawk fan until the season they went to the Super Bowl, but they didn’t have any fans at ALL! Nobody cared about the Mariners, people just went to the game to hang out. Nobody watched the Seahawks other than for the reason that it was Sunday so why not? The Sonics? The apathy was incredible, until the team was bought out and was moved, and then all of a sudden they were the most important thing to ever happen to that city. Seattle didn’t just have a miserable championship history, they had an apathy that I have never encountered before when it came to professional sports. Again, I’m not just talking about bandwagon fans, since every franchise has that, even the Giants. But in any other city I’ve ever watched a game in, for any sport, you can always tell there are SOME hardcore fans, some people who actually care and follow their team. Seattle did not have that at all, so while I feel for them having miserable championship success, I wouldn’t put them on any list ahead of cities with fans who bleed for their team.
Buffalo and Cleveland are two cities that can’t buy any luck when it comes to their sports. Buffalo with the infamous Bills of the 90’s and a Sabres team that has never won a Stanley Cup, and Cleveland with a Browns team that hasn’t been relevant since the last one was moved to Baltimore in the middle of the night, and don’t even talk about the Indians in the 1997 World Series or the whole LeBron James ordeal. Those cities care and cry, bleed and cheer for their teams, regardless of the sport, regardless of how bad things get. Those cities have miserable histories, as does Atlanta, but I would hardly call Atlanta miserable.
This city loves the Braves, Falcons and Hawks and tolerates the Thrashers. The Georgia Dome, Turner Field and Phillips Arena are constantly full and Sports Radio is full of callers who are looking forward to the next season. The city is excited about the Braves this year, thrilled about the Falcons this past season and has high hopes for next, and the Hawks always bring about a cautious optimism. Even the Thrashers, who don’t have much of a fan base, have enough of a core that any Thrasher game is full of fun and energy. This city may have the second worst Championship misery, but I would hardly call any fan in this city miserable, and that’s because, unlike Seattle, this city actually cares. And while nothing beats winning an actual Championship, knowing that when your team loses you’re surroundedby a city and by fans that will still show up the next year with excitement is just about enough to offset the sting.