Does South Florida Really Bite the Big One for Sports?

Sports Haven? Really?

Sports Haven? Really?

I’ve been here a dozen years. Love the winters.  Actually, from late October right through early June, you just can’t beat the weather. Ask any relocate-ee from the north and they’ll tell you, the reason they moved here is the weather.  They might tell you it was a career move — they’re lying.

That said, there are other things in South Florida that make living here pleasant.  We’ve got among the best beaches on the planet. Some excellent restaurants. Spectacular entertainment. And for the nature enthusiasts — the Everglades really are incredible. 

Then there’s the sports scene. 

The Miami Dolphins have been here since 1966, so they actually have a history. They have a fan base, and a glory era from which to lure new fans — the mystique of the perfect season — the Hall of Famers like Marino, Czonka…and….well there are others.

The Florida Marlins repeatedly put viable talent on the field almost every year. They’ve got two World Series titles to their credit in just 16 seasons of existence. Impressive by any standard. But they draw slightly better than The Secret Life of Squirrels on the Discovery Channel.

The Heat? A perennial playoff contender in the late 90’s and one championship. Not too bad for a team that only started 20 years ago. But…lots of empty seats. And the one’s that are (save a few diehards) are filled with beautiful people hoping to be seen.

The Panthers.  Ice Hockey. NHL Hockey in South Florida. It’s a great game to watch, but somehow watching guys kill each other for three periods on frozen precipitation, then stepping outisde the arena into a tropical paradise…let’s just say it’s a little odd.

And that’s it really. It’s the fact that we kind of live in Shangrila down here.

Are there too many distractions? Why does the sports scene stink? These questions aren’t exactly new. Sportscasters have been trying to answer them for years.  But I haven’t heard the definitive answer yet. The real hardcore sports fans, are transplants from the Northeast, and maybe Chicago. In fact, I’ll go on record and say no metropolitan area in the country has more displaced fans. Not even LA. 

Go see the Mets play the Marlins at Dolphins Stadium and count how many blue and orange hats with the interlocking NY are in the seats.  I was at a game last season when the Mets fans’ cheer of “Let’s Go Mets” drowned out the Marlins chants. Perhaps drowing out is inaccurate — blew it away is more more like it.

Ready for the theories? Ready for the excuses?

Too many distractions. Too many displaced fans. Too much oppressive heat. Too many rainstorms during baseball season.

The teams aren’t winning? WRONG. Even during championship runs, there were plenty of empty seats in the stadium and arenas.

I think I’ve got it.  The one answer that really is quite simple. Everywhere you look in South Florida…every park, every makeshift field, every driveway, people are playing sports.  EVERYWHERE. They’re playing soccer and basketball and touch football and golf and tennis and baseball. I drive by sports complexes every single day…and no matter what time of the day it is or what time of the year it is…someone is out there…playing. Youth leagues are overflowing. Adult leagues are bursting at the seams. Pick up games have waiting lines.

And so, maybe…just maybe…we’ve been looking at this whole thing from outside in, instead of inside out. Maybe this city, this chunk of land at the end of a peninsula amid palm trees and tropical breezes is the greatest sports area in the country. Only nobody’s watching — they’re too busy getting in the game.

One Response to “Does South Florida Really Bite the Big One for Sports?”

  1. Big Louie Redbone Says:

    Well, I have an idea why. When I was a kid I use to love to watch sports. In the 70’s dad got transferred to Key West. I remember Dad was a Dolphin fan, even though he’s from Jersey. I liked the Vikings because I thought the name was cool and one of their nicknames was The Purple People Eaters. What did I know? I was a kid, dammit. When those two teams played each other our living room was like a war zone. Dad screaming for the Fins. Me for the guys in purple.

    In the late ’70’s I went in the army, then college. I lost track of the game. Lost track of all sports. Why? Too busy, girls, rock ‘n roll. I’m not making excuses here. That’s just the way it happened.

    When the Marlins won the World Series I got caught up in the fever like most people in South Florida. Miami was back on the map. We were going to rule. GO MARLINS! Then they sold the team out from under the fans and I felt like I got hit with a line drive to my package.

    But that’s sports today. If the team isn’t selling the players, the players are selling themselves to the highest bidder. How can you expect fan loyalty when the team doesn’t respect the fans! It’s a damn shame, that’s what it is. My life is way too friggin’ busy to keep track of who’s who, who’s playing where, who’s wearing what uniform. Christ almighty. Sports use to be about enjoying the game and having some fun. Not about big business. At least for me, anyway.

    So excuse me if I don’t want to go to the game, pay $20 to park in the muddy parking lot across the street, sit in the hot sun and then have to pay $10 for a friggin’ hot dog that tastes like shit all the while trying to figure who all these schmucks are on the field making millions of dollars while I sit in 90° weather with 100% humidity dying of heatstroke.

    That’s it. I’m outta here. I’m going to the beach, sit at the bar in the shade and sip on a cuba libre and maybe do a couple shots of Patron while I watch the hoochie mamas in their thongs rollerblade up and down the street. Now that’s a sport I can appreciate.