Blog Entry

Why does South Florida fail in pro sports?

Posted on: March 8, 2008 5:08 pm

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.

Category: General

Since: Feb 9, 2008
Posted on: March 25, 2008 6:39 pm

Why does South Florida fail in pro sports?

Hmmm....interesting post. Certainly I think the case could be made that other cities with major league sports franchises have had bad streaks that lasted years. Boston comes to mind...anyone remember the Patriots sucking for about 20 years? Add that with the Red Sox not being able to win the Series for decades and it becomes more comparable to the current situation in South Florida. You could make the same point with Chicago from time to time.

As a New Yorker who loves Florida and the Miami Dolphins, the market down there has always been puzzling. By the way, I disagree with the notion that the Dolphins have few fans left - quite the contrary, I believe the Dolphins are still one of the top franchises in football with respect to fan base. Even CBS Sports bears that out. We are one of the top 10 message boards as far as number of fans. This is a testament to the fans all over the country and the work that Joe Robbie, Don Shula, Wayne Huizenga and many others did to help make the team a premier franchise.

Back on track -- I mentioned the market is puzzling. I know that people from all over the United States, particularly retirees, settle in Florida. This likely causes a lot of residents with much different favorite teams than the locals. I can go to a Dolphins game and see loads of fans from the opposing team. Well, they didn't fly down there for some mid-season game...they live there and happen to be a fan of another team.

So maybe that point addresses the idea of a "conceivable", or rather "inconceivable", fan base. As far as business moves within the various franchises, I believe that's a cyclical problem (unless you are Bill Bidwell, owner of the Arizona Cardinals).

So take heart South Florida. Your teams (including my beloved Dolphins) will reach ascendancy within their respective sports. Plus, you all have the wonderful Florida Keys to hang out at when the going gets tough. I have Buffalo, NY.

Since: Oct 8, 2006
Posted on: March 13, 2008 3:14 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Nov 3, 2007
Posted on: March 9, 2008 3:57 am

Why does South Florida fail in pro sports?

Yeah they have had a real tough year in sports. The Marlins had a horrible year and had hunderds of people watching there games at the end of the season, the Dolphins won only one game on a lucky pass in OT vs a struggling Ravens team, and the Heat have been just a complete disaster do they ever have 10 wins yet.

Since: Aug 10, 2006
Posted on: March 8, 2008 11:06 pm

Why does South Florida fail in pro sports?

Awesome post.

I wouldn't say the Panthers are the most popular team at this point. They're the most successful, but still have a difficult time selling out the arena. (Come on SoFla fans! Check out the Panthers -- you missed a thrilling OT win at the Bank tonight!)

I'm not too distraught over the teams here, at least not to the point where I'm contemplating jumping off the 17th Street bridge. Perhaps I've just been conditioned to deal with miserable play after watching the Panthers and Marlins for so many years.

Things weren't always so bad down here. From about 1996-98, sports in Miami were pretty decent. The Panthers went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996; the Marlins won the World Series in 1997; the Heat advanced to the conference finals in 1997; the Dolphins and Hurricanes were average, but competitive. Granted, it wasn't what Boston is experiencing at the moment, but it was fun nonetheless.

Here's a little tidbit about the South Florida teams though -- with the exception of the Panthers, all the pro teams have gotten rid of a "franchise" face within the last calendar year. The Heat traded Shaq, the Marlins traded Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera and the Dolphins parted ways with Zach Thomas. It is kind of sad when you think about it because not only do the teams here suck, but some of the biggest fan favorites are gone, too. Seriously, out of the four pro sports, which player now has the longest tenure with a team down here? (Damn, I think that's going to require me to do some research now.)

I think that is very telling when it comes to figuring out why the fan base here is lackluster. There are so few players that stick around long-term, and the identity of the team always seems in flux. Kind of like the population in a very transient South Florida region. People come from all over, and root for their teams instead of cheering for the Florida teams. Then they pack up and leave. Of the people I do know from out of town, the longer they stay, the more they become attached to the South Florida teams, though. (I think, New York fans, however, are an exception to the rule.) In the case of the Panthers, you may have some guy from Detroit who will root for the Red Wings in the one game they play here, but cheer for the Panthers in the remaining 41.

It's a start, right?

Since: Jan 7, 2008
Posted on: March 8, 2008 10:25 pm

Why does South Florida fail in pro sports?

Usual with all major cities now, and I say that with the Giants winning the super bowl and the Lakers in the hunt for it all. =)

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