Half the trouble with living in South Florida is that one in every one-thousand people who talk about sports are actually relevant enough to hold a conversation. Half the time it’s completely their fault for not being a loyal fan, the other half lies completely with the organizations.
Today, Ozzie Guillen was fired. (ESPN) After less than one year at the helm of a team that traded away absolute studs in the middle of the season, he was fired. Now this would make complete sense had he traded away these players, but he didn’t. Having a sense of regularity is what every great sports franchise has, there isn’t one team who we know will not change from year to year (save for the Heat in the next couple years). In this market there are four professional teams, the Marlins, Dolphins, Panthers, and Heat, currently only one has a set path which would allow fans to buy a jersey that is good for more than a year. Here’s a sports fans perspective, who doesn’t care for any of these teams but lives in the area on why it’s so hard to find a real fan in South Florida.
Let’s begin with the Heat, before Lebron James came to Miami people were all over Wade. Hell people actually thought they could get the county renamed from Miami-Dade to Wade County. So, yes there have always been fans of the Heat, but only when they are on the verge of winning a championship. Currently, the Heat’s threesome have people coming out to the games, but still not selling out every game and a simple search on Stub Hub shows that you can go to a ton of games for just $23. That doesn’t scream “We’re champions,” it screams “Our fans will wait until we’re almost champions again before coming out.” I do believe a major problem with the Heat is location. Try to drive to their arena from Broward County during rush hour to catch a weekday game. It’s nearly impossible if you work, and the drive home is a menace. Yes they are a good team, and some people have been following the team for years, but if you ask most people when they started watching the Heat aka “The Heats” due to the need to pluralize every team name and you’ll typically get the answer of 2006. Yes, they won the championship that year. With all that being said, Miami Heat fans are the most loyal of them all in percentage, yeah it’s hard to get to the games and over the course of a season that long it’s expensive, but at least they watch every game they can.
The Miami Dolphins still celebrate 1972 like it was yesterday. Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to hear about 1972 in 2012? It’s been 40 years since they won a title and we’re supposed to accept that in South Florida and be fans of the team that passed up Drew Brees, traded away Wes Welker, and Brandon Marshall, and drafted Ryan Tannehill to play quarterback, just when fans were getting used to this Matt Moore guy that won games and was named offensive MVP. Playing in Miami is hell for the players, the fans here are terrible, the weather sucks and you’ve got old guys who won 40 years ago, or in Dan Marino’s case didn’t win at all’s shadows hovering over you like because you live up to the way the team has been built, still it’s your fault. Jeff Ireland is the manager in South Florida who needs to be fired. When you flat out turn down Braylon Edwards because you didn’t like his reference of Rex Ryan, that’s stupidity clouding your judgement to make your team better. There are a few fans that can tell me every player on the Dolphins, then there are the people who watch every weekend and wouldn’t be able to tell me who the wide receivers are, and the extent of their defensive background ends at Cameron Wake. Like most teams in the area, they could be good, the division isn’t that strong when compared to each other and building them would be simple. Instead bonehead decisions leave more fans every year wondering why they even watch.
Miami Marlins? Okay, sure. We’ve all seen the hideous stadium, jerseys and mascot. So liking this team can’t rely on a gimmick it has to be intertwined with on the field play. First off, baseball is dying for the youth. Kids don’t have the attention span to sit and watch a very slow game where nobody gets hit play out without losing their shit and asking for a iPad to play on. Then we have Mike Stanton who changes his name after a break out year, I honestly thought the Marlins signed his brother or something until I looked it up. The guy is good, but come on man you can’t just go all name changing after one great season. The constant firing of everyone, it troubling. Star players are sold off for less than pocket change, while a manager that has a decent record and good ties to the Hispanic community that you moved yourself deeper into is let go. I only know one person who actually follows this team, everyone else down here follows a baseball team from a different area, or like most people under the age of 25 doesn’t follow baseball at all. They botched the move to Miami, traded away good players again, and lost their manager. It’s time to start all over Miami Marlins fans, but what else is new? Even after you win the World Series, everyone is sold off.
And now, for our main event, The Florida Panthers. Last year they were great, picking up steam, fans in the stands, tickets being sold. Fans of them being louder than fans of the visitors for the first time ever. Yes ladies and gentlemen, Sunrise, Florida was a hockey hotbed. This year there is no league. Which for new Panthers’ fans is reason enough to go back to basketball. So far the lockout is not a death sentence, but with enough Lebron in Miami the focus shifts quickly. Honestly, the Panthers got a great deal of fans from the locked out NBA schedule debacle. they’re about to give them all back. The people who will come right out and say they are Panthers fans know their stuff, but good luck finding them outside of the arena. Just like every other team down here, a title race will bring people out in drones acting like John Vanbiesbrouck is still the goalie in their Starter jerseys that are still pristine because they haven’t been worn since 1997. The Panthers had their shot, but the NHL Lockout may just kill them.
Following major sports in South Florida is something I do for a laugh, I don’t care for any of the four teams. That’s because when you’re a kid you pick a team that’s preforming well and stick with them, also I lived in an area where going to a game was impossible due to the distance. I’m not saying none of these teams have a chance with real fans, but talking incessantly about Shaq, Marino, Conine, and your plastic rat toy, isn’t going to get anyone new to watch.