The Atlanta Braves recently blew a 3-1 lead in the 2020 NLCS to the Dodgers. This devastating loss just seemed like the breaking point for Georgia sports fans, who have endured a rough few years. Not only did it bring the young Braves, who were full of momentum, to a screeching halt, but it was one of two difficult losses suffered on that weekend alone. The Georgia Bulldogs also suffered a brutal loss to Alabama, who dismantled the Dawgs. This weekend was one of many tough ones for Georgia fans over the years. Despite this only being two of the six main programs in Georgia, the October weekend symbolizes countless years of disappointment.
The Atlanta “Curse”
The mention of a possible curse going on in Atlanta has risen since 2016. The Falcons made the Super Bowl that year, their first since 1998. After a brilliant first half, the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead to the Patriots, the largest in Super Bowl history. If the Falcons could have held on, it would have been Georgia’s first title since the 1995 Braves. However, the blown lead ensued, and is now considered a staple in Georgia sports. Since that 2016 Super Bowl, the 0-time champion Falcons have been on a downfall. Despite a playoff appearance in 2017, disappointing 2018 and 2019 seasons have brought the Falcons to 2020, where they have set new standards on what it takes to be bad. 2020 has not been kind to Atlanta so far, and the Falcons are the golden standard of that.
After a tough loss to the Seahawks in week one, Atlanta headed to Dallas. The talented Falcon offense scored four times unanswered to gather a 20-0 lead before the end of the first. By the end of the first half, the Cowboys still trailed 29-10. By this point, the Falcons had a 94% chance to win the game. This continued into the fourth, where the Falcons at one point had a 99.9% chance to win. But you guessed it, a terrible special team play led to the Cowboys kicking a last-second, game-winning field goal, securing the miraculous comeback. I get it, blown leads happen. However, the Falcons repeated this the next week, blowing a 16-point lead and 99.3% chance to win. Just last Sunday, Todd Gurley choked away the game by accidentally scoring a touchdown. Atlanta sports teams just keep finding new, creative ways to lose games.
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
The Atlanta Braves have been the most successful team in Georgia in recent years. Since their hot streak began in 1991, the 3-time World Series champions have made the playoffs 20 times. Despite this unbelievable stretch (20 appearances in 29 years), the Braves have still left their fans disappointed. Prior to this season, Atlanta had not won a playoff series since 2001. Somehow, the Braves managed to lose in the first round nine straight times. Yet, this season they were able to finally gather momentum, coming up one game short of the World Series. The Braves were one of just two teams to win a championship for the state in the past twenty-five years. Although almost everything about Georgia pro sports have been disappointing, the college scene may be even worse.
The Georgia Bulldogs and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are the main college attractions for college sports in Georgia. The Bulldogs have made 23 consecutive bowl games and are on pace to make it 24 this year. However, this success is expected for a big-name SEC program. The Jackets haven’t found as much success, only reaching 20, but still a great accomplishment. The football teams for each college program are not lacking as much as other sports, but even despite all the winning seasons, the Dawgs still blew a lead in 2017, costing them a shot at the national championship. After finally reaching the college football playoff and shutting out the Crimson Tide in the first half, Alabama stormed back from 13 down in just twenty-one minutes. Backup quarterback Tua Tagovailoa brought Alabama to the championship win, stunning Georgia fans everywhere.
Even with all the recent success of both college squads in football, the basketball teams are less than respectable. No matter how close any Georgia team may get to winning it all, they can never seem to close. A bright future may be in store, but even that seems unlikely, as most fans have given up hope.
With every blown lead and playoff loss, Georgia fans still come out to support their teams. This is for good reason, as there still is some hope. The Hawks traded away future hall-of-famer Luka Doncic, but Trae Young is giving the young squad some confidence. Three straight horrific season diminishes the dreams of Hawks fans, but the future is starting to construct, and the NBA might be beginning to take notice of a young and exciting team.
The Braves may not have won it all, but they still have assembled the most exciting team in baseball. Ronald Acuña and Ozzie Albies headline a team that could take the league by storm in the next few years. Success has not been in the cards for Atlanta sports teams, but there has been no shortage of excitement.
The one other lone bright spot in Georgia sports right now is Atlanta United. Their 2018 championship win is starting to increase the interest in soccer, because it has not ever been here before. In just four years, the MLS (Major League Soccer) club has finished 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in the league, taking the trophy home once already. Soccer may not be the most popular sport in the South, but United’s success may soon change that.
You must respect the loyalty of the fans of Georgia sports. After countless heartbreaks, they keep coming back for more. I respect that, but until the act of each Georgia team is cleaned up, Atlanta teams will continue to be a laughingstock.