Name me a professional sports team in South Florida that has had continued success in the last ten years. I can't.
The Florida Marlins have had two World Series Championships in their short existence, but the space inbetween those glories has been marred by dissapointing and disheartening seasons, failing to capture the support and devotion of a stable fan base. Whether the support of the fans is needed to produce a consistently competitive team, or the competitive team is needed to garner the support of the fans, is in question. My views have always been rooted in faith and loyalty above all, but we are talking about South Florida, here... The team cannot even keep a stable roster, let alone a collection of souls willing and wanting to watch such a roster. Future star players now pass through, or jump off from, this two-time champion team, and fans seem reluctant to put any of themselves into the Marlins, not wanting to be crushed by the perennial gutting of personnel.
The Miami Dolphins have been a blemish on the face of South Florida for some time, and of what few pious fans are left, many of them have been driven to insanity by the overwhelming lack of production. It has been quite common in the last month or so for me to hear, "Playoffs this year, baby!", or "Super Bowl in two years, count on it!". While both are certainly possible, neither are very probable. You see, reality is now an afterthought for South Florida, because the failure of the last decade has been so prevalent in the thoughts of fans that even the smallest ray of hope brings about monumental changes. No longer do fans of this franchise despair, and no longer do they attempt to see anything but the greatest of outcomes... A breath of fresh air, or more appropriately, the simple opportunity for fresh air, has reignited interest for the Dolphins. That's good, but the only solid thing Miami has produced for themselves in the last year was a win. This season has yet to start.
Basketball is a tremendous sport... for anyone who is a fan of any team other than the Heat. Right now, basketball is a grim reminder of a failure we are eager to forget. It is simply a note of bitter and consistent dissapointment at the bottom of the front page. It has now become a consecutive affair of a passive attitude. Expectations have not moved from next year since the championship a few years ago. Such a time feels so much longer... With 11 wins, neither player nor fan gives much of a thought to the remainder of this dismal season. Even the coach seems desperate for the best possible exit route. But fans of the team cannot escape their loyalty, and therefore must endure the shame that is pervasive among South Florida professional sports. We cling to the name of Dwayne Wade for the most minute bit of confidence and pride, though I don't think any fans have felt such a thing in some time.
Although the necks of South Floridians are too sore from the continual hanging that they are subjected to, it is worth noting that if they were to be raised for anything, it would be the playoff-hopeful Florida Panthers. That's right, a hockey team is the most popular team in South Florida. And the only one with a winning record. Wins over Atlanta and Carolina could push this team into the top of a very tightly contested division, and to the center of South Floridians' hearts. But even so, it is hard for me to imagine a packed and roaring arena full of Florida fans, playoffs or not...
Why is it that South Florida is so inferior to the other names in professional sports? No, these teams are not yearly bottom-feeders, but you are more likely to see paper-bag headed fans year after year in South Florida than anywhere else. Is it a lack of management by the higher-ups? Is it the lack of support by any conceiveable fanbase? Or is it simply the aura of failure and disspointment that hangs over any currently unfortunate soul connected to the area?
I am a true fan of the Marlins, Heat, and Panthers, as well as my beloved Miami Hurricanes. And this devotion has prompted me to ask those outside these organizations, fans of any other team, just what they percieve the problem to be, and take a look at the difference between their teams and the teams of South Florida. I ask the opinions of fellow South Floridians as well, as we are all in the same boat, and new perspective on the same issue is always greatly appreciated.
I would love to elaborate more on just about everything, but it seems to be raining directly over my head at the moment, and nowhere else... such is the luck of a loyal South Floridian.