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The word "fan" is short for "fanatic" for a reason. Most cities with pro teams are filled with fans who embrace the team like a kid hugging his mom during a power outage. These fans own wardrobes with ketchup-stained team apparel that they wear proudly, game day or not.
However, there are certain cities with "fans" who aren't really fans at all. They own no gear. They attend no games. For these people, opening day of the baseball season is just another day of work. Fall Sundays are for napping. Their sad, empty stadiums earn them a wag of an oversized foam finger and a stern "shame on you." Here are five cities that do not deserve the great sports teams within their borders.
(Editor's note: This article is presented in good fun. In fact, the writer has only been to two of these cities. Feel free to respond in kind to his take-down of your city's pathetic fans—or just send him some straight-up venom-mail.)
5. Cincinnati, Ohio
Franchises: Bengals, Reds
Level of caring: Kanye shrug
Most people in Cincinatti are so stuffed full of cheese, sour cream and chili from Skyline Chili that trying to get to a Bengals game on Sunday is an afterthought. But I won’t allow that as an excuse. No matter how delicious it is, if you order a three-way, you deserve the intestinal apocalypse that inevitably results. I got a glimpse into Skyline’s kitchen once. Saw a mound of shredded cheese about ceiling high, just sitting there, ready to be dumped on bowls of chili for the foreseeable future. It’s a terrifying yet amazing place.
Cheese-covered chili aside, the Nasty Nati has been neglecting its football team for awhile now, even as the Bengals have enjoyed great quarterback play from the likes of Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton. The Bengals didn’t sell out a single home game last year, leading to six TV blackouts, even as the team went 10-6 and made the playoffs with a young, explosive roster that featured one of the best young receivers in the game in A.J. Green. This season has been no better. The team sits at 25th in attendance. In fact, the Bengals haven't been better than 20th in attendance since 2007, when they were 19th. Likewise, the Reds have seen their attendance numbers sink to the bottom half of the league for the past decade, even as All-Stars like Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto have kept the team in consistent playoff contention for the past few years. Apparently chili trumps sports in southern Ohio.
(Photo via View My Seats)
4. Oakland, California
Franchises: Raiders, Athletics
Level of caring: George Bush at a press conference
I’m no longer sure whether the term “black hole” refers to the Oakland Raiders demonic cheering section or the stadium itself, since fans don't show up and once-successful players (Randy Moss, Carson Palmer, et al.) seem to get the talent sucked out of them the moment they step on the field. Even when the A's play well, no one comes to watch, and half the stadium is covered in green tarp. Playing ball in Oakland’s O.co Coliseum is like playing four square in the Disney Land parking lot. It’s unattractive, way too big, and you can't get anyone to pay attention to your game. The Raiders have been awful in attendance for years, including 31st in 2008 and dead last from 2009 to 2010. The Oakland A’s haven’t finished better than 26th in attendance in seven years. And what in the world is O.co? I can’t even type that into my browser, because I freak out and want to type something longer.
So let’s stop pretending that RAIDAZ fans have passion, and let’s stop calling Billy Beane a genius. Until he can figure how to get people to come watch his band of misfits play playoff baseball, let’s reserve the g-word for people who deserve it, like Albert Einstein or the guy who wrote "Gangham Style." Also, we're not counting the Golden State Warriors, because their location is the Bay Area, which means more than one city is rooting for them, which is unfair.
(Photo via Unlikely Moose)
3. Atlanta, Georgia
Franchises: Braves, Falcons, Hawks
Level of caring: Mike Francesa during an interview
You know, when you’re fooling around at the gym with your buddies, and some kid hits an over-the-head half-court shot, except nobody sees it, because everyone else is huddled in the bleachers debating why that hot girl from high school got so nerdy? Well, Atlanta teams are like the kid who hit that half-court shot, and Atlanta fans are like his buddies who continue to ignore him and call him a liar for the rest of his life.
The Hawks have made the playoffs five straight seasons. The Falcons reached the NFL playoffs in five of the last ten seasons, and they currently hold the best record in the league. The Braves, at one point, won their division 14 years in a row. Fourteen, guys. Yet flip on a mid-season Hawks game, and Phillips Arena is so silent that if you listen closely, you can hear Lil’ John yelling something outdated like “CRUNK JUICE!!” from the clubs across the street (where I assume he lives permanently). Here’s how the Hawks ranked in attendance during the past five seasons, each ending in playoff appearances: 20th, 20th, 18th, 22nd and 23rd. Those numbers make sense for a cellar-dweller like the Bobcats, but not for the Hawks.
Braves fans have apparently grown tired of their team making the playoffs. Turner Field is about as empty as an IHOP around 3:30 p.m. It’s always fun to watch a team go nuts after a walk-off win, while a single superfan wearing a mustard-stained Tom Glavine jersey celebrates in the background. That's what's going on in ATL. Braves attendance has hovered near the bottom of the pack for years, even as the team transitioned from players like Ton Glavine, John Smoltz and Greg Maddux to young guns like Jason Heyward, Craig Kimbrel and Kris Medlen. MUST BE TOUGH.
The Falcons were also middle of the road in attendance last season, coming in 15th out of 32 teams, although the team posted a 10-6 record and earned a trip to the playoffs. Atlanta couldn't even hang on to the Thrashers, who bolted for the border, changed their phone numbers and locks and now go by the name "Winnipeg Jets."
(Photo via Rocky Mountain Way)
2. Jacksonville, Florida
Level of caring: Drake receiving an important text
The Jaguars' stadium, EverBank Field, is like a sketchy sauna. It’s half empty and steaming hot, and everyone in it is sweating and miserable. Today, it's hard to remember the Jaguars teams of the late nineties who were competing for AFC Championships in front of crazy crowds. Think of today's expansion-team Jaguars, and it's hard to picture anything but an empty stadium and coach Jack Del Rio pacing the sidelines in a $20 suit, pretending it's not 200 degrees outside.
Did we mention that no one comes to the games? In 2005, when the Jags were serious playoff contenders, management covered up more than 10,000 seats to keep games from being blacked out on local TV. In 2009, all but one home game got blacked out. In 2011, Bud Light bought 6,000 tickets (!!!) for a Jaguars home game just so it wouldn’t be blacked out in local markets and the four people watching on TV could see ads for their beer.
Not to worry though. To attract fans this season, the Jags are doing magnificent things, like allowing babies to attend for free. Nothing says football like a stadium full of sunburned infants. Some Jacksonville fans may cite their team's recent awfulness as the reason why they don't show up, but don't believe them. They didn’t care much when the Jags were good, and they don’t have much interest now. You could throw Arian Foster, Aaron Rodgers and Calvin Johnson on that team, and people in Jacksonville would still be like, "Dexter is on in eight hours. I can't go anywhere, or I might miss it."
(Photo via Press Coverage)
1. Miami, Florida
Franchises: Marlins, Heat, Dolphins
Level of caring: Eeyore
We get it. There’s a beach. And trees that only grow in semi-tropical climates. But you know what else is in your city, Miami? LeBron James. Dwyane Wade. Chris Bosh. Jose Reyes. Mark Buerhle. Shaq was there once. Oh, and remember Dan Marino? Remember those Marlins teams that won two World Series? You must not.
Sun Life Stadium is about a third full every Sunday, with cigar aficionados wearing turquoise Jason Taylor jerseys talking about the glory days. The Miami Heat had to send out a memo on “how to be a fan” when the front office realized that even a team with two sure-fire Hall of Famers wasn’t interesting enough to get sun lovers to stop building sand castles and come watch a basketball game. Absurd. And don’t get me started on the Marlins. With all those empty orange seats, the facility formerly known as Pro Player Stadium looked like a bowl of orange juice until the Miami populace woke up and realized their team was in the World Series in ’97 and ’03. Then the place filled up with 80,000 people trying to figure out how to pronounce Bobby Bonilla’s last name and why Craig Counsel twitched so much. When ownership completely dismantled the team in the ensuing years, Miami went right back to ignoring sports altogether. Now, even with a swanky new stadium and another team full of highly paid All-Stars, the newly branded Miami Marlins still came in 18th in league attendance. Miami has an embarrassment of sports riches, and they're are going relatively unnoticed.
(Photo via Staple Design)