Aside from a blip in the mid-90s, there's been very little for Atlanta to cheer about when it comes to its sports history. In fact, ATL has consistently ranked at or near the top of Forbes' list of America's most miserable sports cities, which is, as the magazine notes, "thanks to just one title (the 1995 Braves) in 162 cumulative sports seasons since the 1960s." Yeah ... when you put it that way, it sounds dreadful. Let's discuss why the city deserves a break.
Jeff Haynes (AFP)
Its depressing sports history
Despite their dominance throughout much of the '90s, the Atlanta Braves won only one World Series during that stretch, and that was 20 years ago. (Oh, and the team is moving to the 'burbs in 2017, so you can start calling them the Cumberland Braves.) And it ain't just baseball. The Falcons drafted Brett Favre in 1991 but traded him to Green Bay and lost their only Super Bowl appearance in 1998. (Let's not rehash Michael Vick's fate, either.) The Hawks DID win an NBA title -- but that was in 1958, when the franchise was still in St. Louis. (Not even Dominique Wilkins could get Atlanta past Boston or Detroit.) And if you're one of the four people in Atlanta who care about hockey? Yeah, your city lost not one but two NHL franchises: the Flames (to Calgary) and the Thrashers (to Winnipeg).
AFP/Getty ImagesCHRIS WILKINS
Its wall-to-wall traffic
Sure, plenty of big cities have to deal with this problem -- but New York, L.A., Boston, Chicago and other major metropolitan areas can also boast a pro-sports championship of some sort within recent memory, and those cities also don't go around adding "Peachtree" to all of their street names. Around 6 million people live in the ATL metro region, and the city's traffic congestion is ridiculous, borderline unbearable, thanks mainly to poor funding, poor capacity and poor public transit (just ask an Atlantan how he or she feels about the MARTA). And when a snowstorm hits? Uh-oh. It takes only about two inches of the white stuff to shut down the city. Stranded on the interstate in a "blizzard" with nary a sports title to savor? Unfair.
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Its suffocating humidity
Describing Atlanta's climate as "humid subtropical" really doesn't do it justice, Wikipedia. But to be fair, you can't truly comprehend just how hot the summer months get there until you experience it yourself. Even in the evenings, long after the sun's gone down, it's oppressive and difficult to breathe. Sweat collects in every nook and cranny, dribbling off every appendage in rivers. Your shorts stick to your thighs, and even the slightest movements seem to require Herculean effort. And in case you're wondering, the nearest beach is several hours and hundreds of miles away. It is hell on earth, and there are precious few championship banners in Satan's parlor.
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Its pop-culture image
If you've never been to Atlanta, then likely your most recent and perhaps only impression of the city has been via "The Walking Dead." You know, the iconic scene when Rick Grimes -- utterly alone -- rides a horse through a desolate downtown? Eerie, chilling, deserted -- much like Atlanta's trophy case. True, zombies have been kind to the city in a way, as "The Walking Dead" is a ratings juggernaut and one of the most popular television dramas of all time. But its portrayal of Atlanta as a ghost town, overrun with flesh-eating hordes and beyond saving? That kind of thing can weigh on a city's psyche.
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Its effort and progress
Atlanta has its problems, some dating to its antebellum founding and eventual burning. But the ensuing 150-plus years have wrought massive change for a city that has positioned itself as the cultural center of the New South. It was a hub of organization for the Civil Rights Movement. It has become a literal hub for travel, trumping Beijing as the world's busiest airport. And Atlanta's economy is a U.S. top-10. Its arts-and-music scene is thriving, birthing indie-rock and hip-hop success stories all over your radio dial. And even if the same can't be said for the city's sports scene, let's not forget that Atlanta has a relatively recent Olympic Games on its resume. This is a proud city that has come a long, long way. Isn't it time it got to celebrate a sports title again?