The Cup

Atlanta United fans packed Mercedes-Benz Stadium Saturday to witness United win the 2018 MLS Cup, setting another attendance record this season. Pretty good for a “bad sports town.”

“Without question, Atlanta is the worst sports town in America. If the New York Yankees are the standard for excellence in baseball, Atlanta is the epitome of the bottom of the barrel when it comes to fan support.”

 

Those words were written by former ESPN contributor Rob Parker, a man who shares my surname but not my sentiments on Atlanta fans. And I hope that Mr. Parker is eating those words this week after Atlanta United captured the MLS Cup Saturday in front of 73,019 of the perhaps the most passionate fan bases in modern sports. What’s a seven-letter word for anus? 

As a lifelong Georgian, I can say that Atlanta’s teams have fervent fan bases, we just haven’t had a lot to cheer about in recent years when it comes to championships. 

Since 1995, the Braves have won 12 division titles, two NL pennants and exactly zero World Series titles. 

The Falcons had two shots to take the Super Bowl, but it didn’t go their way in 1998, and of course, 28-3 is a score line that will haunt the Falcons-faithful for decades to come after their squandered lead two years ago. 

With the exception of a breakout season in 2015, the Hawks have not been on the lips of those speaking of possible NBA championship runs, well, really ever. 

There is also the Thrashers who went north of the border years ago after 11 seasons and one playoff appearance. And many blamed the city for paltry fan support. That last sentence was brought to you by a person who has the Thrashers’ logo tattooed on his leg. 

UGA football, perhaps taking a cue from the Falcons, blew a two-touchdown lead against Alabama in the SEC Championship just a few weeks ago. Of course that loss came less than a year after the Bulldogs squandered a 10-point lead in the national championship to the Crimson Tide. 

Saturday night, surrounded by a throng of reporters following Atlanta United’s win in the MLS Cup finals, Michael Parkhurst was asked about ending what many have called a curse for Atlanta’s professional sports teams. 

The United captain quipped he was from Boston, so he knew plenty about supposed curses and how even the longest can come to an end. 

But as Parkhurst continued, you could feel that this Boston transplant knew how much a championship meant for this city. 

And from the stands it was certainly palpable. 

United fans have become a beacon for a supposed bad sports town, and as I traversed the locker room following Atlanta’s win Saturday, seemingly every player heralded the support the team has enjoyed this season. That continued Monday when thousands of fans marched through the cold rain for what Atlanta has desired for so long — a championship parade. 

Those like Rob Parker can continue to dismiss Atlanta fans and their teams, but United’s incredible season is evidence that, while Atlanta fans may be pessimistic, we are absolutely a passionate fan base this is certainly not a bad sports town. And that’s a way, in 39 words, to say “suck it, Rob Parker.” 

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