0

JENKINS: Atlanta's passion for pro sports pales next to Boston's

Photo by Ginny Sampson

Photo by Ginny Sampson

Think we take our sports seriously in Atlanta? I'm talking about professional sports, not your 8-year-old's rec-league game. I know you take that seriously. So do all the people who watched the YouTube video of you taking it seriously.

But when it comes to a passion for pro sports, Atlantans don't hold a candle to Bostonians. Compared to our brethren from Beantown, we're like Occupy Atlanta urban campers beside a bunch of outlaw bikers.

I know this because I spent an hour last Thursday afternoon sitting in rush-hour traffic on the Mass Turnpike after flying into Logan International Airport. On the bright side, I had plenty of time to listen to Boston sports talk radio while I painstakingly inched toward the suburbs.

So I did listen to sports talk. For the entire hour. And during that hour, here is what I heard, over and over: "All Red Sox players, coaches, front-office personnel, management and owners are filthy scum suckers who clearly deserve to die, preferably today."

I heard this from the hosts. I heard it from multiple callers. Heck, even the commercials reinforced the theme: "Buy your next Chevy at Southside Chevrolet, where we believe that all Red Sox are filthy scum suckers who clearly deserve to die."

OK, I'm kidding about that last part. But just barely. What I actually heard was the hosts' encouraging listeners to call and weigh in on a variety of topics, such as the following: "Which Red Sox is the biggest (expletive deleted)?" "Which Red Sox is the worst (different expletive deleted)?" And "Which Red Sox is the most disgusting (yet a third expletive deleted)?" I am not making this up. Much.

What's got Bostonians so upset, of course, is the late-season collapse by the Red Sox that kept them out of the playoffs for the first time in several years. Leading their division by a game and the wild-card race by 9.5 in early September, the Sox ended up being eliminated on the last night of the season.

That was on Sept. 29. More than four weeks later, they're still being blasted non-stop on sports radio by anyone who is lucid enough to dial a phone. (Which is by no means everyone in Boston.)

Lest we forget, our own Atlanta Braves suffered a similar collapse, leading the wild-card race by 8.5 games on Sept. 1 before also being eliminated on the last night. I dare say no one in Atlanta was particularly happy about that. We grumbled, complained, pointed the finger and demanded someone's head. For about three days. Then we let it go.

But that's just pro baseball, you're thinking. It's not like it was something important, like college football. Let UGA have another losing season and see how fast people turn on Mark Richt.

Yeah, maybe. But somehow I doubt they'll be calling him an (expletive deleted).

Rob Jenkins is a local free lance writer and college professor. Email him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.