If you grew up in an NFL town, going to NFL games, you probably had a different upbringing than everyone else. But in Atlanta, it’s just different.
The Falcons were decent, then they were bad. Then they were good again. We spent afternoons having to deal with insufferable fans from opposing teams, most of whom had moved from their insufferable city to Atlanta. That’s the way Atlanta became such a melting pot of North and South, and Falcons fans were usually caught in the middle.
Sure, it still happens in 2013 if a brand-name franchise is in town (you’d outspend a local to score a ticket, too, if you only got to see your team play in your new town once a year or less). But the Falcons are quickly squashing the narrative that Atlanta is a bad sports town.
Writers and bloggers are beginning to speak up about their fanhood. That’s good for something. And you always hear the stories about how small towns like Green Bay turn into ghost towns when their team is playing. But if you’ve been down Peachtree Street during a Falcons game in recent years, you’d see the same thing. Everyone is packed into a sports bar or they’re in the Georgia Dome.
Atlanta is a football town, and on Sundays, college football fans turn to the Falcons to get their fix. Additionally, a lot of young Falcons fans were born when they made their Super Bowl run at the end of the 1998 season. We’re grown-up now, and we haven’t gone away.
(Also read: Why Julio Jones will be a huge factor on Sunday)
I understand that the narrative in the North is to not take the South seriously, and no matter how many Northerners move down here, that won’t change. Believe me, I hear it every day. They don’t take our way of life seriously, and they sure don’t take our sports teams seriously. The former will continue (example: MTV releasing a “reality” show about the dumbest rednecks you’ve ever seen, billed as “life in the South” while at the same time releasing a show about far more sophisticated kids growing up in Washington Heights, New York).
But the thought of Atlanta being a bad sports town is going to take a lot more effort to keep alive when they see the Georgia Dome on Sunday at 1 p.m.