• phil cantor/@osgphil

Are Atlanta's Professional Sports teams cursed or just overdue?



The Chicago Cubs had the "Curse of the Billy Goat" which went away after winning a World Series in 2016. The Boston Red Sox believed they too were cursed, going nearly 100-years between World Series titles.


Houston's professional sports teams were referred to as "Choke City" for decades.


There are countless examples of major cities with professional sports who've struggled to win world titles which to fans are what they define success as. Most but not all have tasted that kind of success. Sure, there are a few cities with only one pro sports franchise who've not won a title and a few that have fallen on hard times.


But there are very few with the same track record as Atlanta.




Atlanta sports fans are not typical among pro sports cities. Heck, before 1965, the city didn't have any franchises so the history doesn't date back as long as most others. The people of Metro Atlanta don't have the generational loyalty of a New York or Boston or Chicago.


Which is why the premise that the city's team are jinxed is while funny, kind of has some element of truth to it.


In the areas 55-year history with pro sports, there's have been two World Championships. The Braves won the World Series in 1995 during a stretch where they played in MLB's title series multiple times and were in the playoffs for 15-plus years. The Atlanta United, who play in MLS, won the title in 2018.



The Atlanta Falcons have been in the Super Bowl twice in their 55-year history. Both times they had some lets just say....memorable adventures.


The Hawks, they've never played in the NBA Finals. The city has had not one, but two NHL franchises, the Flames and Hawks. No, they didn't win a title either.


It's fascinating to me as someone who lives in the area, to see the reaction whenever one of the professional teams makes it to the playoffs. As someone who grew up in Florida, not Georgia, I don't have a huge connection to any of the teams outside the Braves.


Yep, I am a huge Braves fan and have been since I began following and playing baseball as a little kid. At that time, there were no Tampa Bay Rays or Miami Marlins. But I could get the Braves games on the radio and eventually on WTBS-TV when we got cable.


Atlanta area fans are convinced there's a curse. As I said earlier, the Falcons have never won a title while playing for it twice. In 1998, team captain and safety Eugene Robinson was arrested for solicitation the night before the Super Bowl in Miami.


In 2016, the Falcons were winning 28-3 over the New England Patriots late in the 3rd quarter. After an epic collapse, they lost 31-28 in overtime. The memory of this is so bad that fans and talk show hosts constantly remind pretty much everyone in the city about it whenever possible and the joke is made by almost every national sports person in existence.


But my question/point is this: Is this "curse" really a thing?


I'm serious Atlanta friends, think about it. The Braves? They had a few down years while rebuilding from 2013-2017, but before and after that, they were a playoff level team....every year.


Since then. They've won the National League East each of the past three seasons. It took the very young squad a couple tries, but they made it to the NLCS in 2020 and took a super-heavily favored team to a few outs of winning a World Series berth.



The Falcons---their issues are different though they've had a pretty good run of success over the past two decades. No, they don't have a Super Bowl title to show for it but they've been in the game and played in the NFC Championship four times in the past two decades. Not amazing, but pretty darn good.


Yes, the Falcons of 2020 are not good. They've way overvalued players they felt were the best at what they do (they weren't) and are saddled with some horrible contracts. The team needs a major rebuild in the worst way.


The Hawks. Yeah, they don't have the track record of the other teams. There have been stretches of success in the 80's, 90's, 2000's and 2010's. But no NBA Championships. No, they've not even played for one. They are one of six NBA teams to never play for one.


So yes, the teams, or at least some of them lose. A lot. And on occasion, much like other teams in other cities, they lose games in sometimes crazy or weird or occasionally stupid ways. It happens in sports. A lot.


Before someone asks, I'll briefly mention the college teams as college sports are arguably bigger than the pros in Atlanta. The University of Georgia has won A national title, in 1980. They've come very, very close since...but have not gotten over the hurdle known as Alabama.


Georgia Tech. They "shared" a 1990 title. They've played in bowl games since then but haven't come close to a national title.


Are either of them cursed? No. Is either one a failure. No....


The point I'm really trying to make is that sports teams don't suffer curses. They aren't "jinxed" as much as some fans would like to think.


Professional athletes don't sit around and dwell on a bad loss or strange defeat like fans do. They never have. Fans don't seem to understand this. For an athlete, every game is a new one and with that comes a new opportunity to win a game and improve. That's how you have to look at sports, look at the games and look at the teams.


Are there certain teams that have little to no chance? Yeah, sure there are. The Falcons aren't going to be sniffing a Super Bowl shot for a few years. Let's be real. Does it mean they aren't going to at least try to win every game they play? Hell yes they will. It's what they are paid to do.


Same for the Hawks. They aren't going to beat the Lakers and win the title in 2021. Nobody in their right mind would believe that. Does it mean they will rollover when the Lakers roll into town for a game? No. Don't be ridiculous. The Hawks will compete and give whatever they have in the tank to try and win.


That's why "curses" or "jinxes" in sports are just fan excuses. They are meaningless unless you're looking for a way to enter into a debate are argument with someone else.


While I love my Atlanta friends, I only share the deep seeded fan love for one of their teams, the Braves. And the Braves will be competing for World Series titles for the next several seasons. They're built to be successful during that time.


Sure, they couldn't close out the Dodgers after leading 3-1 in the NLCS. But they've also never been in that spot before. They learned something and will be able to handle it better the next time they are in a similar position.


That's the truth. That's being a realist, knowing as a fan, you don't always look at things the same way.


Yes, the "curse" of Atlanta sports makes for a good joke, but it isn't legitimate.


It just makes for a good storyline and debate. Which for fans, is part of the fun.


I get it....



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