Welcome to Atlanta: The Worst Sports City in the World

Ben BussardCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2008

A song made famous by rappers, and fellow Atlantans, Jermaine Dupri and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, "Welcome to Atlanta" prescribes numerous activities and landmarks that have reasserted the great city of Atlanta as the Empire of the South and a great vacation spot.

However, what the song fails to mention―and for good reason―is the ineptitude that every single professional sports franchise―with a slight exception for the Braves―in Atlanta possesses in regards to success.

The inferiority of Atlanta's sports teams is nothing less than astounding.

Coming from a sports fan who was born and raised in Atlanta, and is yet to move away due to sheer embarrassment, no one should endure what I have over the course of my first 20 years of life―not to mention the misfortune of my father's generation.

Surviving Hawks' and Falcons' seasons has become a term of endearment in the state of Georgia. With every game, attendees receive congratulations for their immense bravery and more condolences than a grief-stricken widow following their endeavor.

The plight of the Atlanta sports fan has become well-documented.

Excluding the post-1990 Braves, the city of Atlanta has suffered through 40 Hawks seasons (NBA), 42 Falcons seasons (NFL), 16 Flames and Thrashers seasons (NHL), plus 25 seasons from the aforementioned pre-1990 Braves. 

All in all, 123 seasons of utter dismay and dejection.

Over dramatic? Maybe. But having to watch the city of Boston flourish in success makes me sick. I mean, how many championships do you need?

The Red Sox have reversed generations of losing by winning two World Series in the past four years, the Patriots have established themselves as possibly the greatest football franchise ever assembled―that's before they go 19-0 in a couple of days―by winning three Super Bowls in a four-season span. Not to mention the recent success of the 36-8 Celtics, who are well on their way to the NBA Finals, and just for kicks the Bruins are currently in position to make the NHL playoffs.

Has any other city in sports history had four teams make the playoffs in the same year? If not, Boston will more than likely be the first.

Can't we have a piece of the pie, too? 

Even our most successful team, the Braves, didn't live up to their expectations during their 14 consecutive Division Championships.

14 post-season appearances and only 1 title? Are you kidding me?

I guess I shouldn't be too picky though―at least the Braves have been to the summit of athletic accomplishment, unlike the rest of Atlanta's sports franchises.

The Hawks haven't so much as seen a Conference Championship series, much less won one. But hey, we did get to watch Dominique Wilkins win a slam-dunk title or two. That stands for something, right?

In the 16 years of professional hockey in Atlanta, only once did the Flames advance past the first round of the playoffs. The Thrashers won the Southern Division in 2007 after six losing seasons, but were swept in the first round faster than a Dany Heatley-driven Ferrari.

At least the Falcons were able to serve as John Elway's red carpet into the Hall of Fame and retirement by rolling over in the 1998 Super Bowl―which didn't make up for the 30-plus years before it or the "Vick years" following it.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot that the Falcons have yet to produce back-to-back winning seasons. So, you know, in case you didn't catch my drift. 

Let's review:

5 teams

140 seasons

60 winning seasons

54 playoff appearances

24 Division Championships

6 Conference/League Championships

1 overall Championship

Overall Records (Regular Season)

Atlanta Braves: 3432-3323 (.508) 

Atlanta Hawks: 1464-1566 (.483)

Atlanta Thrashers/Flames: 496-571-153 (.465)

Atlanta Falcons: 256-378-6 (.404) 

The number of playoff appearances and Championships is fairly respectable for one franchise. Unfortunately, those six Conference/League Championships (five of which belong to the Braves) have to be shared among five different ones.

The habitual lack of success and the disparity between .500 seasons is nothing that the rest of America isn't already aware of―especially those of us living in the great Peach State.

But what truly distinguishes Atlanta as the worst sports city over other "losing-inclined" cities like Chicago, Phialdelphia, and Minneapolis is the undoubted lack of support or interest that Atlanta sports fans (I use that term loosely) have shown for all of our sports teams―even when they manage to get a taste of success and national relevance.

At least Chicago had Michael, Scottie, Phil, and da Bears.

Minneapolis has been just as unsuccessful as Atlanta in terms of winning, but at least the Metrodome is always packed―regardless of the sport.

And nobody can doubt the unbridled passion―or vulgarity―that every Philly sports fan possesses. No matter how bad their teams are, the Philly faithful never fail to show up to an Eagles or Phillies game belligerently prepared to show their support. 

I'm not claiming to be envious of sports fans from Philadelphia, but it sure would be nice to head into Philips Arena or Turner Field and see people arrive on time. Instead of the fashionably late attendees who decide to stroll in about midway through the second period or in the top half of the fourth inning.

If I have to sit through one more Hawks game and stand up more than five times so that Mr. Flomax can run to the concession stand or the bathroom, I'm going to lose my mind.

And the next time I'm at a Braves game but somehow feel like I'm at a cocktail party due to the drink choices and conversation topics of surrounding parties, I might take up knitting as an alternative hobby.

Atlanta is quickly becoming known as a Hip-Hop mecca that hosts an occasional All-Star game or Final Four. And as our one shining franchise―the Braves―begin to enter the "post-Bobby Cox era", where will we turn for sports entertainment?

I guess there's always the World of Coca-Cola or the Fox Theatre.

I just hope that our collective neglegence towards our four major sports teams and the major sporting events that we have been fortunate enough to host doesn't come back to haunt us once we lose one of our teams (COUGH! Thrashers COUGH!) or future Super Bowls and All-Star games.

We should all be ashamed of ourselves―and our crummy sports teams.



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