The Curse of Atlanta Sports

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Atlanta sports fans mourn yet another tragic blow lead as the Braves’ NLCS loss costs them the chance to compete in the World Series.

Savannah Richards , Radio Station Manager

After another tough loss for a major Atlanta sports team, fans begin to wonder if any team has what it takes to break the Atlanta curse.

 

“I want Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuña, Ezequiel Barco, and Josef Martinez to be the pallbearers at my funeral,” said 75 year Atlanta sports fan James Johnson. “So that they can let me down one last time.”

 

Some might consider Johnson’s joke a little morbid–myself included, since he’s my grandfather and I’m not convinced that he’s joking–but it does get the point across. In 2017, a single event left Atlanta shocked into silence. Super Bowl XLI was an earthquake that opened the ground beneath Atlantians’ feet and buried their hope deep in the Georgia red clay. 

 

The aftershocks of the Falcon’s blown 28-3 lead can still be felt today. They were certainly felt as the city watched Atlanta United’s designated player, Josef Martinez, hit the turf clutching his leg in the 2020 season opener against Nashville FC. Fans held their breath, prayed for the best and received the worst–it’s a torn ACL and the star striker is out for the season.

 

Then post-season finally rolled around for the Braves and it seemed like maybe the curse was coming to an end. They were leading 3-1 heading into game five of the NLCS, and it seemed like hope was clawing its way back to the surface and into the hearts of the long-forsaken fans–and then the tremors started up again. The Braves, Atlanta’s only hope of redemption, lost three consecutive games and surrendered their chance of playing in the World Series.

 

Being an Atlanta sports fan can sometimes seem frustrating enough to test the patience of Gandhi, but there’s also a camaraderie forged in the flames of each heartbreaking loss. Just like Super Bowl XLI, fans will add the NLCS to the list of things you don’t talk about around a Georgian. Eventually, 2021 will roll around and everyone will throw on their merch and get ready to tailgate, because true fans know that it’s about more than just a game. 

 

It’s about community. It’s about home. And each team does their part to help support the community of fans who are dedicated to supporting them. Outreach programs like the Falcon’s Youth Football Camps and United’s Station Soccer programs help teach local kids the importance of physical activity and sportsmanship, while giving them an opportunity to play and grow. The Braves Care organization advocates for education, and supports literacy initiatives and STEM programs in middle and highschools–because every child deserves a chance to succeed.

 

It’s about family. For every kid who sat on her dad’s shoulders in the nosebleed seats of a stadium so that she could see the field, or who ran around the neighborhood throwing a ball around with his friends, it’ll never be just a game. That’s why every loss hits so hard, and why the fans keep cheering anyway.

 

“If you only cheer for your team when they’re winning,” said Johnson, “you’re not a real fan.”