Or so sayeth this article by Rae Witte. But here’s the thing with this particular critique of Miami sports, outside of the visceral/hyperbolic headline: it’s not necessarily wrong.
Hell, I’m certainly guilty of one of the sins of Miami fandom that she articulates (more on that later). But my main criticism is that most of the piece is off topic and/or applicable to sports fans in general.
After introducing the topic of the piece, we get this:
Six years ago, LeBron James announced he was “taking his talents to South Beach” in the over-publicized television special, The Decision. Despite helping bring two championship rings to the city, any talents he exhibited in South Beach were not at all related to basketball. American Airlines Arena is located in downtown Miami, not South Beach. That disparity—one between a humid metropolis and a beach playground—is not one the rest of America often recognizes. When people think Miami, they still think South Beach and partying.
This is spot-on. Most people around the country do view Miami as a party town, and LeBron’s malappropriation of the word “South Beach” spawned a thousand copycats who used the terms “Miami” and “South Beach” interchangeably … something no one from South Florida would ever do.
In fact, from a sports perspective, we consider “Miami” to be anything south of the Broward-Palm Beach County line and east of the Everglades. Which of course leads to a further question of how you actually define a city in an era of urban sprawl and … wait, what in the hell am I even talking about?
NONE OF THIS HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH A CHARACTERIZATION OF MIAMI AS A SPORTS CITY.
It’s simply a comment on a misconception that people outside of Miami have of Miami.
It’s no secret that Miami sports fans are not the most loyal or invested supporters. We’ve all witnessed a nearly empty American Airlines Arena well into the first half of playoff games during the Heat’s NBA Finals run from 2011-2014. You can imagine what it looks like during regular season games in less successful years. Miami doesn’t have fans; it has attendees..
Alright, at least now we’re on topic. And as I stated earlier, this criticism is not necessarily wrong.
Late arriving crowd? Sure.
Fans leaving after the outcome looks to be decided? Sure.
But what’s unique about that to Miami? Some of the self-proclaimed “12th Man” fans in Seattle famously left an NFC Championship game early. And no one in their right mind or otherwise would question the quality of Seattle as a sports town — they routinely sell out MLS games for crying out loud.
As an aside, the criticism of Miami fans as being late-arriving is legitimate, but if you’re going to link to a tweet as evidence of a “nearly empty” arena, “well into the first half of playoff games” from “2011-2014,” for the love of God, don’t link to a tweet that includes a picture of the clock stating that there is 11:59 left in the first quarter, from a playoff game with the Hornets this past season, which clearly shows the stands more than half full. That’s just lazy!
As far as this snippet:
You can imagine what it looks like during regular season games in less successful years.
#WellActually we don’t have to imagine … because we have attendance numbers and the Heat routinely rank in the top half of the NBA in attendance, even when the team is not competitive. Spoiler Alert: Philadelphia, which no one would accuse of being a dispassionate sports town, has had the worst attendance percentage in the NBA the last two years … I wonder why that is.
And this is where the piece drifts so far off course that Drift King Sean Boswell couldn’t reel it back in. It starts with this:
It’s also worth mentioning that every single arena, stadium, and field in Miami has a nightclub in it. Not just a club-level bar, a full-on nightclub, and fans still can’t get to goddamn games on time.
I’d argue that it’s not worth mentioning. The purpose of clubs in stadiums is to capture business from people that would be attending the game anyway. As Witte lays out in excruciating detail in the following paragraphs (yes, she devotes three paragraphs in total to Miami as a party town with lots of things to do, none of which has anything to do with sports), there are plenty of places to party.
It makes sense to give fans planning on partying the option of spending their money at the venue. Of course if you weren’t interested in going to a game, you’d just go to the club directly instead of trying to attend the club at the stadium.
But even if that wasn’t the case, the second sentence makes even less sentence. Why would a club incentivize fans to get to a game on time? I’m not even sure what being at a club on time even means. If you’re planning on going to the game simply to party, it actually makes no difference if you miss the tip-off or kick-off or first pitch.
In that diatribe, she does at least mention sports twice:
because where else would you want to watch a game besides from a luxury sports bar within the arena where the game is actually being played?
Wait … what just happened? I thought that Miami fans were so bad that they wouldn’t attend games even with the allure of a world class luxury party experience. Now, she appears to be arguing that Miami fans do go to games, but end up not watching them from their seats.
HALP! I’M LOSING TRACK OF WHY MIAMI SUCKS!
Great for never feeling the need to attend a sporting event, ever.
Okay, thanks for clearing that up.
Especially considering Miami is full of transplants who—if they are even watching a game—are likely watching their hometown team rather than the one in the city they moved to for its beach lifestyle.
On this, I’m guilty as charged. I was born in Texas, and grew up as a Cowboys and Mavericks fan. My family moved to Miami when I was 13 and I continued to support the teams I always did. I’m certainly not unique in that regard. We see it most when one of the New York teams comes to town.
So this is accurate … but here’s where she loses me. The specific people she is discussing by definition are not Miami fans. This would make sense if they made up a majority of the Miami sports-viewing population. If you could argue, “most people living in Miami don’t even support Miami teams,” but you can’t because the majority of people in Miami do support the local teams.
The argument is basically that Miami is such an attractive place to live, that people from other parts of the country (and even the rest of the world) choose to move here. In fact, Witte does such a nice job articulating all the positives of living in Miami, you’d think she’s working for the tourism industry.
But she never actually explains why this makes it a “trash” sports town. “There are fans of other teams here too” is hardly an argument.
Oh, but it’s about to get weirder.
Transgressions like these are never a surprise in Miami.
What transgressions? Athletes cheating on their wives! In addition to completely misidentifying the Kim Kardashian/Reggie Bush timeline (they broke up when he was on the Saints a year before he joined the Dolphins), Witte seems to be arguing that Miami is the place to be for athletes that cheat on their wives.
The “transgressions” reflect on the person, not the location. Johnny Manziel got into all sorts of trouble in Cleveland, Kobe Bryant’s indiscretion was in Colorado not Los Angeles, Tiger Woods got his at the notorious sex club Perkins. Professional Athletes have unlimited access to attractive women…regardless of where they play. Transgressions like these are never a surprise. Period. Full stop.
And then there are three definitive statements about Miami sports.
Players are more likely to be embraced for their personality than their play.
I had heard a rumor that Dan Marino Boulevard was so named for his charismatic work in those Isotoner commercials, but I never believed it until now.
Miami is just not great for actual sports fandom.
Didn’t you just convince me otherwise? Not only are there plenty of good seats available (allegedly), but I can watch teams compete for championships, have perfect weather (the Vikings played a playoff game in -6 degree weather), and even hit up a club in the stadium for some postgame partying.
Or for any high-level athlete who cares more about his or her game than what’s happening on the sidelines.
Huh? The University of Miami has the second most alums playing in the NFL at 37, most of whom return to Miami to train in the offseason. The recently departed Dwyane Wade just spent 13 years in Miami becoming one of the NBA’s greatest players ever. It certainly seems like a place where high-level athletes that care more about their game than what’s happening on the sidelines can excel.
There are problems with Miami sports, and Miami sports fans, as is the case with all fans in all cities. The problem is that most of this article has nothing to do with any of that. It reads part sales pitch for the greatness that is Miami, and part blanket accusations that could be levied against any fan base.
Most of what ails Miami sports could be solved simply by deporting Jeffrey Loria and finding a quarterback. The fans? They’re just fine.