Part 1 of 2
Bare with me for a second because I feel a mini rant coming. This whole "South Florida isn’t a sports town" spiel that I keep hearing is actually starting to get under my skin. From bone heads like Bill Simmons (who I actually used to really enjoy reading) to my buddies from the great northeast in my fantasy league’s this label has been continuously thrown around as a big reason we are not worthy of signing a player of Lebron Jame’s stature.
Well, Im going to debunk this myth right now. Miami is not a good sports town, it’s a GREAT sports town.
So lets look at several of the misconceptions about Miami sports and try to better understand each one.
Miami is a Bandwagon Town:
Point #1 - Simply put the Miami Dolphins not only disprove this theory but they completely destroy this theory. Does anyone realize that is been almost 40 years since the Dolphins have won a Super Bowl; 25 years since they’ve played in one; AND almost 20 years since they lost in pathetic fashion at home to the Buffalo Bills in their last AFC championship appearance?
To put this another way, people from my generation have never experienced "South Florida’s Team" win a championship; between the ages of 5-9 the last time we even played for one; and were pimple faced, braces wearing high school students the last time we even had a realistic chance at getting to the Super Bowl.
Since that time we’ve gone through 5 coaches in 10 years (not including Shula), had a revolving door at the sports most important position AND are quickly becoming this generations Boston Red Sox of Football. The only thing my generation of Dolphins fans has known is that in 1972 we went undefeated, that Dan Marino is the greatest quarterback to never win a Super Bowl, AND that the 1985 Monday Night Football game between the Dolphins and Bears saved our franchise from becoming completely irrelevant. Oh, and let me now forget that each season we get to watch a bunch of grumpy old men pop champaign and celebrate when another potential undefeated season comes to a conclusion.
But you know what? Through it all we remain loyal. We show up to games, don’t have home blackouts and continue to root for next year when everyone in Miami thinks "this is the year were going to the Super Bowl." Sure, during the year that we went 1-15 the stadium was half empty. Can you blame us, it’s the best time of the year to go on our boats and head to the beach. Know what though every one of those games was sold out. We just didn’t use the tickets. We do not accept losing and our owner got that right away. It’s the reason Cam Cameron didn’t get a second season.
Now here is the secret as to why the Dolphins get this kind of support while the other teams sometimes have difficulty drawing fans, they’ve been around since the 1960s. This is important, in fact its probably the most important part of this entire discussion. The Dolphins have been around since our parents generation, which means that from the time we were children we (like our parents grew up supporting them). Every other South Florida team has been around for less than 25 years. The fan base that grew up supporting these teams is just now coming into adult hood, getting jobs and having the ability to pay for tickets. We are just now having our own kids and teaching them to root for the local teams, unlike our parents generation who all grew up rooting for some team from another city. In another 15-20 years these teams will be like the Dolphins are today, ingrained in the community.
Point #2 - Can’t this "bandwagon theory" really be attached to any city that isn’t winning. Where were people calling Yankee’s fans bandwagon fans when they couldn’t even fill the cathedral, the great Yankee Stadium in the late 80s? In fact, the Yankees weren’t even able to fill half the stadium in those days. Just last season 10 NFL teams continuously were having problems filling their stadiums. That is 1/3 of the league. Were these fans referred to as bandwagon? The list goes on and on and on. Just look at MLB’s attendance to see the correlation between winning and people showing up. The reality is as sports has become big business and ticket prices have sky rocketed in order to pay high athlete salaries, people really need to think hard about where they spend their hard earned dollars. Fans everywhere now demand that their teams put the best products on the field or they take their money elsewhere.
The difference between Miami and other cities, is there is more "elsewhere" to take that money.
Next time I’ll delve more into the problems surrounding the Marlins and also show that the sudden rush to see the Heat isn’t so sudden.
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