New Atlanta Old Atlanta Swag

 The city of Atlanta has been developing and redeveloping it’s identity over the course of decades. From a budding shrine of the deep south to a national beacon of opportunity, to what can be seen now as the burgeoning international hub known as the “ATL”, “A-town” or quite simply “The A” (Notice there is no Hotlanta on the list.) Atlanta has been front and center in nearly every aspect of the business, entertainment and lifestyle worlds. The most notable arena that doesn’t seem to have a strong Atlanta influence is in the sports world. The city boasts a paltry 2 titles since 1966, which is when the Falcons were founded and the Braves moved to Atlanta from Milwaukee. The Hawks moved in 1968 from St. Louis and neither the Flames nor the Thrashers made any noise during their residencies. 

   The most misconstrued narrative about Atlanta is that it’s not a “sports town” or that because it’s a transplant city that most fans are rooting for the visiting team. That’s not necessarily the case. Of course winning makes it easier for fans to put emotional and financial equity into the squads but look at the buzz the 60 win Hawks garnered for that moment or even the worst to first Braves of the 90’s. 

   In the early to mid 90’s the Bravos owned Atlanta. Some companies would let their employees leave the office early just to go catch an afternoon game. But 1 title in 5 appearances may have soured some people’s perception since then. With that being said, how can you in good conscience not root for your home team wins lose or draw? Maybe “back in the day” there were no indications from any of the teams front offices that any were in the hunt for a trophy and that is what turned lots of ATLiens to Lakers, Cowboys, Steelers, Yankees etc. For the most part most ATLiens want to wave the flags of their hometown squads. 

   Atlanta United may be the clearest example of the city embracing the hometown team. They’re also the newest team to reside in the city, but they’re also an embodiment of what Atlanta is or can be as a sports town and a more cosmopolitan city; an amalgamation of the natives, home-growns and transplants. The United fans and supporter groups have helped to usher in some of that “New Atlanta” swag. If you don’t see it, just watch. 

   Take for example the Falcons and how the fan base has a certain everyman appeal with a lingering hint of “we know we’re the crown jewel of the South”. The city’s self assuredness sometimes oozes out the pores of ATLiens and longtime transplants alike, and this most recent incarnation of the Dirty Birds seems to emulate that same demeanor. 

  The “Baby Braves”, as they’ve been coined as of late have been on a mercurial ascension; but not only are they winning they’ve also been fun to watch. No longer living and dying on the long ball but by just playing baseball and playing with a sense of exuberance and bravado that matches the aura of a new generation of ATLiens.  Bat flips and specialized handshakes are something new to the Braves persona but matches what “the kids are doing”.

  The Atlanta Hawks? What’s not to like about the direction the entire organization is heading. For one Tony Ressler wants to win which is supposed to be the goal of EVERY professional sports franchise, but secondly they are trying to win with dynamic young talent and not bargain bin, marginal stars (with all due respect to anyone that would be considered that). The freshness of the young Hawks attitude and demeanor has a similar feel to that of the up and coming generation of youngsters matriculating into Atlanta society in all aspects of life. 

  The city of Atlanta has definitely evolved its persona over the past number of decades and it seems that the Sports teams of Atlanta are finally starting to match that and hopefully the sports world will be calling it a championship attitude.

 

Mike Gaines

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