A homegrown cure for what ails Atlanta's pro sports teams

How long has it been since an Atlanta team won it all? It was so long ago photographers used film in cameras -- black and white film. (AJC photo/David Tulis)
How long has it been since an Atlanta team won it all? It was so long ago photographers used film in cameras -- black and white film. (AJC photo/David Tulis)

Credit: George Mathis

Credit: George Mathis

The depths of sports winter, the time of year when the TV remote control migrates from my end of the couch to the other, is almost upon us.

The Georgia Bulldogs had one of their greatest seasons ever, but the Falcons' season died with a pathetic whimper in Philadelphia.

The Atlanta Hawks are tied for worst place in the NBA .

The Braves aren't very good either, and don't start playing again for months. Former Braves General Manager John Coppolella had to resign for cheating . I'm no sports or ethics guru, but if you get "banned for life" from your profession and your team finishes 25 games back in the division you're not very good at baseball or cheating.

In this winter of dissed content, sports programming is so weak you may even catch a few desperate souls pretending they're excited about the Winter Olympics.

As an Atlanta sports fan, rooting for the underdog has long been a survival skill, but Americans have no chance of winning some of these winter games.

I'm not saying the U.S. Curling team is doomed, but Thursday morning I saw some kids throwing rocks down their icy driveway when the U.S. Olympic Committee dropped by and offered them free airline tickets if they'd compete in South Korea.

Due to almost an inch of snow that has trapped me in my home for days, I've had time to deduce why some Atlanta's sports teams struggle to not embarrass the state.

It's not the players, or even coaches and managers who never bothered to learn to cheat properly. It's the owners.

Every locally-owned team is doing great. Home Depot co-founder Arthur Blank owns the Falcons and some other team that kicks a ball around on what looks like a grass hockey field. The Falcons aren't the best team in the NFL, but they were very close to losing back-to-back Super Bowls this year.

Blank's grass hockey team went to the playoffs in its inaugural season while setting attendance records for the league. Recently, it was reported "the team will pay Argentinian midfielder Ezequiel Barco $15 million." I'm not sure what any of that means but it sounds mighty impressive.

Atlanta's biggest, or at least tallest, losers, the Hawks, were purchased by out-of-town owner Tony Ressler in 2015. The team has gone 104-104 since. Not terrible, but fans deserve better.

The Hawks get spanked so often now the only team owner that makes sense is Sarah Blakely, the founder of Atlanta-based Spanx. The way the team is playing now they might want to officially change their name to Spanx.

Fortunately, Blakely already owns part of the Hawks. All we have to do is convince Ressler, and other minority owners like Grant Hill, who must not know much about basketball, to pack their bags.

You'd be forgiven for thinking the Atlanta Braves are owned by Scrooge McDuck.

During the glory years, the Braves' payroll was often among the highest in major league baseball. Colorado's Liberty Media Group acquired the team in 2007 and last year the Braves' payroll was down to 19th out of 30 teams.

Who should own the Braves now? Ted Turner, of course. He is the only owner of a major Atlanta sports franchise to win it all. Or did you forget Turner owned the Braves when they won the World Series in 1995?

If Ted can't do it, don't let his children anywhere near the team. Turner's son, Beau, was part of the Atlanta Spirit ownership group that spirited the Atlanta Thrashers off to Canada.

About the Author