How much does where you live matter as a sports fan? The short answer is: It depends.
If you're an Alabama football fan, there's no better place to live than Tuscaloosa. If you're a Boston Red Sox fan, there's no worse place to live than New York City.
But what if you were a free agent, so to speak? What if you loved sports, but didn't have a specific affiliation to any team?
Say you're moving to a new city. Which metropolis would have the most to offer you as a sports fan? Which would give you the best overall experience?
That is what we're here to find out. We took 25 of the best writers from Bleacher Report and beyond to objectively look at their cities and come up with a ranking. To get a better understanding of the categories and grading criteria, click here.
Washington/Baltimore comes in at No. 17.
The sports fans—the people, for that matter—of Washington, D.C., and Baltimore are so close. But yet, at the same time, they are also so very far away.
Now, we're doing our part to bridge the gap between those two populations, just 30 miles away from each other and yet separated by so much. We will do so by scoring those fanbases as a single group, according to several categories. How do these two, with their powers and weaknesses combined together into one, stack up against the fanbases of the nation's other big markets?
We will see. But before we go any further with this exercise, we need to establish a few inalienable truths for the record. Because before we can unite, we must understand those things that divide.
It has nothing to do with the cities' teams themselves, which play occasionally but don't even operate in the same conferences. It's more of a fan issue.
It's hard to summarize in a nutshell, but there's a white-collar vs. blue-collar tension between the two entities (guess which one is which!). As a sports example, D.C. is, in its soul, a hoops town; plenty of people in Baltimore, on the other hand, would be delighted to never lay eyes on a basketball again. Baltimore, however, arguably has the pound-for-pound better teams and deeper sports tradition.
There's also the small matter of fact that Baltimoreans hate Washingtonians, like, as people. I don't use that word lightly. I also don't use it inaccurately. They despise what they view as the well-heeled federal suburbanites who watched The Wire once and now spend weekends slumming it in Charm City.
Washingtonians, for their part, care not a whit about Baltimore or its feelings. Aw, Baltimore is so cute, thinking it's on level footing with the most powerful city on the planet! It's a one-sided animosity, which probably just makes it worse.
It's complex, is what I'm saying. And it kind of makes this collective rating a bit of a fool's errand. Good thing I'm a big fool. I'm also a native of the area, though, so I feel I can make as informed of a decision as possible on the number of teams, their levels of success, stadiums, fan passion, general fan experience, media, star power and tradition/history. Let the healing begin.