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Atlanta sports look meager but hopeful for future championships

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With graduation approaching, the time seniors have to spend together is nearing its end. Along with this, as students depart for colleges all over the country, their mutual support for the same hometown sports teams will also leave.  After all these years, it’s time to reflect on what being an Atlanta sports fan would have looked like to the class of 2018..

Grady students are fans of many different sports teams, but some of the most commonly rooted for teams are the Braves, Hawks, Falcons, Atlanta United, and the basketball and football teams of University of Georgia and Georgia Tech.. Living in a city offers a diverse group of sports at professional and collegiate levels.

Atlanta has gained and lost one major sports team over the years. In 2011, the Atlanta Thrashers hockey team were relocated to Winnipeg, Canada largely because of a lack of fan interest. Then, in 2017, Atlanta United joined Major League Soccer, becoming Atlanta’s newest team. Soccer seems to fit the city much better than hockey as Atlanta United led the MLS in attendance during their inaugural season.

Let’s suppose that seniors started understanding sports in 2005. That year, Michael Vick was the Falcons’ Pro Bowl quarterback, the Hawks acquired Joe Johnson, and Jeff Francoeur and Brian McCann were rookies for the Braves. The first thing that any Atlantan will mention about their sports experience, especially those born after 1996, is the lack of championships for the city.    Combining all of the teams, there have been about 60 chances for an Atlanta/Georgian team to win a championship, and none have succeeded. In fact, it seems that the closer they got the more it hurt when the teams fell short. There have been many examples of great teams choking even in the last 5 years. The 2015 Hawks were the top team in the Eastern Conference, but got swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers before the finals. Atlanta United got shocked at home in penalties by Columbus Crew in their first playoff berth. UGA football came close in 2018 to the National Championship but surrendered a 13-0 halftime lead, and a miracle pass by Alabama’s backup quarterback to lose in overtime. And, most notably, there was the infamous 28-3 incident where the Falcons blew a lead in Super Bowl LI that no one thought possible.

That being said, for teams to choke, Atlanta had to enjoy many above average teams. The Hawks’ playoff streak was the second longest in the NBA, before it was ended this year. The Braves sometimes stopped reminiscing about the glory days long enough to make the playoffs. Georgia Tech’s football team has had a couple of good seasons under Paul Johnson, and UGA’s football team is perpetually one of the best in the country, and the Matt Ryan era has been kind to the falcons, who have fielded many great teams.

The future looks possibly brighter than the past. The Falcons are still a threat, UGA is ready to avenge their title loss, the young Braves are arriving and exciting, and Atlanta United might have one of the most talented teams in the MLS. No one can say if these teams will have what it takes, or join Atlanta’s company of good to great teams with no championship.

One of these teams could win a championship, but no team will have an opportunity to do so before this fall, so it is certain that the seniors will graduate without witnessing an Atlanta team win a title. Following Atlanta sports during this time has certainly been a fun and sometimes enjoyable experience, but many people will leave the city still craving icing on that cake of sports success.

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Atlanta sports look meager but hopeful for future championships