11/20/2017

February 8, 2017: Patriots’ Super Bowl Win Highlights Differences in Boston and Atlanta Professional Sports

I don’t mean to go getting all theological on you but one has to wonder if God likes Boston just a tad better than he likes Atlanta, at least when it comes to professional sports. 

Here the Atlanta Falcons are up 8 points on the New England, nee, Boston Patriots with 3:30 left in Super Bowl LI (after being up 25 points late in the third quarter) and needing only a field goal to make it a two-score game.  And then someone decides, “Hey gang! I have a great idea!  Let’s don’t do something simple, like run the ball up the middle and kill some clock before we kick a field goal and become World Champions!  Let’s throw a pass!”  And we all know what happened after that.

Darrell Royal, the legendary coach of the Texas Longhorns, said three things can happen when you throw a pass and two of them – incompletion or interception – are bad.  There is also a third:  You can get sacked and have to pass again and get a holding call and find yourself having to punt and giving Patriots quarterback Tom Brady 91 yards and two minutes to cram the ball down your esophagus.  Maybe that’s four things, but who is counting? 

The point is that Atlanta blew the Super Bowl and reaffirmed Malfunction Junction’s reputation as Loserville.  In my long lifetime, Atlanta has one major professional sports championship to its credit.  The Atlanta Braves won the World Series in 1995.  The Hawks and the Falcons have hardly even qualified as bridesmaids, except in those rare years when they make their respective playoffs and are quickly dispatched.   

On the other hand, the Boston Red Sox have won three World Series since 2003.  The Boston Bruins, six Stanley Cups in their storied history and the Boston Celtics 17 NBA titles.  And the Patriots?  Five Super Bowls in 16 years.  If you want to get technical about it, the New England Patriots aren’t actually in Boston.  They are in Foxboro, which is 22 miles from Boston, but consider that a mere technicality. Otherwise, Foxboro (Population: 17,000) will be telling us how many Super Bowls they have won.

I’m sure God has more on His plate than worrying about professional sports, like being sure atheists never lose their marvelous sense of humor.  (What else He has in store for them is yet to come.) But you have to wonder why Boston seems to get such preferential treatment.

And it is not only sports.  Boston has two daily newspapers and a professional baseball team.  Atlanta has neither.  Gosh, even Cobb County has a daily newspaper and a professional baseball team.  Doesn’t everybody?

Speaking of baseball, I submit that you haven’t really seen a baseball game until you have seen one at Fenway Park, the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball and home to the Boston Red Sox since 1912.  The Braves, in the meantime, are now on their third stadium since 1966.

I have been to Fenway Park and it is one of the greatest sports venues in the country.  You have to see the Green Monster to believe it.  It is a thirty-seven-foot high wall that stretches 231 feet across left field and comes complete with a hand-operated scoreboard.  I am sure SunTrust Park will have all the requisite bells and whistles but it will never match the unique feel of Fenway Park.

Someone once got the bright idea of moving the Sox out of Fenway.  Bad idea.  The locals went bonkers and the team is there to stay.  Other than the Daily Paper in Dunwoody, I get the feeling that nobody in Malfunction Junction gave a rip whether the Braves stayed in Atlanta or not.  Cobb County voters were so thrilled to get the team that they booted commission chairman Tim Lee, the architect of the deal, out of office.

I am not the biggest fan of professional sports.  I have a hard time reconciling the huge amounts of money we pay professional athletes to play a game compared to what we pay our schoolteachers and public safety personnel to educate us and to protect us.

Having said that, I don’t think I have seen us more unified as a people than after the Falcons had slugged and slogged their way to the Super Bowl.  White people, and black people; males and females; liberals and conservatives; young and old:  All rooting for the Falcons.  T’was a wondrous sight to behold.  Will we ever see it again?

 

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at yarb2400@bellsouth.net; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139; online at dickyarbrough.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb