I told myself I wouldn’t respond to the ignorant, idiotic, and sophomoric drivel that Rob Parker wrote in the ESPN New York article, City of Atlanta Doesn’t Deserve Win.
After my blood boiled while reading the article a third time, I realized I couldn’t let such a baseless attack on my city go unanswered. He attacked my city, where I am from, and the teams I cheer for, and then somehow extrapolated unchecked myths and exaggerated stereotypes to claim that our Falcons don’t deserve a win.
This is personal. You attack my city, you attack ME.
So here is my response. Although it might be biased, coming from a PASSIONATE Atlantan, I will actually spend the time to do research and provide facts. Something that should have been expected of a writer being paid by ESPN.
You wanted passion, I will show you passion.
Is Atlanta the best sports city in the country? Of course not, and no one (sane) will ever try to argue that. Hell, the metrics to determine this would be impossible to get a consensus agreement.
Is Atlanta the worst sports city in America? Well, I will wait for someone to show me the statistics that show it.
The sad thing is you tried-you displayed two ‘boxes’ of stats that apparently are supposed to show that Atlanta has ‘the worst sports fans in America’. The first is “Atlanta Average Attendance” and you show the respective rankings of the Falcons (15th of 32), Braves (15 of 30), and Hawks (19 of 30).
Oh boy, where do I start?
First, how on earth is ‘Average Attendance’ directly related to the passion of a city’s sports fans at all? Second, I guess one is supposed to come to the conclusion that being average in all three means you have the worst fans. Finally, if you look at attendance as percentage of the stadium filled, Atlanta is AHEAD of the Giants. Therefore, I can conclude New York has crappy fans who don’t fill their stadium therefore they doesn’t deserve to win. (ESPN should sign me up NOW!)
The second ‘box’ of statistics that are supposed to somehow backup these idiotic claims is even worse. In it, the attendance figures of the Thrashers are shown with a caption that reads, “Once the NHL lockout ended in 2005, the Thrashers’ attendance steadily declined and remained near the bottom of the league.” Too bad someone with half a brain can see that the attendance in 2006-2007 (16,240) is more than the attendance in 2005-2006 (15,550).
If you did what you are paid to do, and actually researched the facts and understood the situation, you would have stated “Since Atlanta fans realized the Thrashers’ ownership was corrupt and ruining their team while raising season tickets every year, attendance has dwindled.”
Show me a city that would support a team who:
* in its 11 years of existence, never won a playoff game
* in its 11 years of existence, only made the playoffs once
* had its ownership group SUE each other
* had its ownership group SUE the law firm representing them in the law suit against each other
* trade away their best players, have the lowest payroll in the league, and THEN raising season ticket prices, and THEN being told by the owners to ‘deal with it’.
You can’t. Many Atlanta fans poured their hearts and a lot of money to support a team that wound up deserting them. It’s a travesty, and as a city we deserved better, and to be repeatedly blamed for it only makes it worse.
I won’t even mention the fact that you try to use attendance figures for a hockey team to say that a football team doesn’t deserve to win. Oh wait, too late. Sorry.
The entire article is written with hyperbole, myths, and exaggerations with the idiocy reaching its highest point with your reference to sweet tea and barbecue pork. That statement is very similar to a statement that would be considered extremely racist. You might as well have said ‘fried chicken’ and it would have been written with the same intent.
Why am I not surprised that you, the esteemed fired-from-a-newspaper Rob Parker, has previously used stereotypes and racism, even claiming that Tyler Hansbrough and Kevin Love couldn’t be successful in the NBA because they are white? You have also attacked Hank Aaron for being ‘a coward’ for not supporting a cheating Barry Bonds. Hell, even Terry Bradshaw called you a ‘flat idiot’ and a ‘disgrace to his profession’. TERRY BRADSHAW!!
This article is just another example of an entitled journalist who opens his mouth before doing any research, and the fact that ESPN employs you and allows you to write drivel like this has tarnished the name and image of the network.
So here you go, Mr. Rob Parker. Here are the facts and information about the wonderful city of Atlanta that might help you appreciate the city and its fans.
- Atlanta’s first professional team came to Atlanta in 1966 (Yankees were founded in 1901)-this is a difference of 3 generations.
- Atlanta is a city with 420,003 in its proper city limits, 5,268,260 in its metro area (New York has 8,175,133 in its proper city limits, 18,897,109 in its metro area). How on earth can we make comparisons on attendance when New York’s metro population is more than triple Atlanta’s.
- On that note, let’s compare attendance as percentage of a city’s metro population. In other words, this will be a relative comparison that shows how much a city’s population supports their team. I will be nice and COMBINE the New York teams in each sport: Braves (46.18%) vs. Mets/Yankees (32.24%); Hawks (12.18%) vs. Nets/Knicks (7.36%); Thrashers (10.48%) vs. Rangers/Islanders/Devils (9.53%) [2010-2011 season]; Falcons (10.47%) vs. Jets/Giants (6.71%)
- As you can see, a greater proportion of Atlanta’s population supports their hometown team, including the much-maligned Thrashers being compared to THREE NYC-area teams (NY Rangers, NY Islanders, and NJ Devils).
- Does Atlanta receive a ‘bump’ for visiting fans? Sure, maybe a little, but not enough to effect the above numbers.
- Is Atlanta a transient city? Of course it is. We have been one of the fastest growing cities for the last 20 years with many people bringing their previous allegiances to the city. A lot more people are moving into the city than moving out of it, which is a much better situation than having people move out of the cities.
- Atlanta has one professional championship, 1995 Atlanta Braves (Current New York teams have 52), so Atlanta fans have not had a lot of memorable seasons to become passionate about.
- Atlanta fans get to cheer for teams which have horrible ownership, except for Arthur Blank’s Falcons. The Thrashers and Hawks have been doomed with the Atlanta Spirit group (mentioned above) and the Braves are lucky to have the anonymous Liberty Media, who make a significant portion of their revenues from porn.
- Atlanta has one of the lowest urban densities, worst public transit, and worst traffic situations than any city in America, resulting in what is called ‘commuter-fatigue’.
- College Football is far and away the most popular sport in Atlanta, which of course wasn’t mentioned at all in the article.
- Speaking of passion, the main rivalry in Atlanta, UGA-GT, is called Clean Old-Fashioned Hate.
Some might call some of the above reasons excuses, but you don’t take any of it into account when writing this article. You paint a broad brush and call out an entire city’s fan base using stereotypes and baseless myths without looking at facts and the possible causes. Your article was insulting and demeaning and reeks of New York elitism. How Atlanta can be punished for being a growing city that is 28% of New York’s size is one of the worst cases of media bias in recent sports journalism.
I am proud of who I am, and who I am is an Atlantan. The sports teams in Atlanta represent me and the memories of these teams, from the Thrashers to the Braves, the winning and the losing, the highs and lows, will be memories I remember and cherish until my death. No matter where I move, these teams will represent me and I will be their passionate fan. As I am sure you have noticed by the reaction your article has received, I am not alone.
You can’t take away Hank Aaron having the REAL home-run record or the worst-to-first Braves season in 1991 or Sid Bream sliding into home plate or the 1995 World Series Championship or Bobby Cox or Jason Heyward’s debut three-run homer. You can’t take away Dominique Wilkins or an underdog and less-talented Hawks team taking the Celtics to seven games. You can’t take away Thrashers’ fans screaming ‘KNIGHTS’ during the National Anthem or watching Ilya Kovachuk, Marian Hossa, and Slava Kozlov, or those two electric playoff nights in Philips Arena that are indescribable and unforgettable. You can’t take away the Dirty Bird or Deion Sanders or the ‘perfect’ Gary Andersen missing the field goal for the ‘unbeatable’ Minnesota Vikings and sending us to the Super Bowl. You can’t take away the Herschel Walker’s or the Bobby Dodd’s or Joe Hamilton’s.
Nothing you ever write will ever take those memories away.
So you and Justin Tuck can keep calling out my city, its fans, and our players. The beauty of sports is that the outcome is never decided by sportswriters or trash talk. It will be decided this Sunday at 1:00 PM between players who have practiced and worked hard all year towards this game.
I can’t wait for this Sunday, because if any team, any city, has ever deserved to win, it’s the Atlanta Falcons and its fans. If only just to shut you and the rest of the elitist New York Media and fans up.
I will be watching my beloved Falcons with my sweet tea in hand eating some delicious barbecue pork with the biggest smile on my face.
Only because I know how much it will piss you off.