Washington, D.C. may not be the best sports town in the country, but it deserves a lot more credit than it usually gets. In fact, D.C. is an excellent sports town that supports more teams in more sports than just about any city in the U.S.
The Washington Post, a marketing machine that bores its tentacles further and further into the belly of local radio, TV, and the internet all the time, recently had the gall to call D.C. a “mediocre” sports town.
Don’t pay attention to such drivel, though, because the writers behind the series for the most part, namely Dan Steinberg and Mike Wise, have only been in town for a few years, and they overlook many of the aspects of D.C. sports fandom that make D.C. sports fans unique. Virtually none of the columnists who criticize D.C. as a sports town, many of whom live off the reputation of the once great Post, hail from the area.
D.C. sports fans shouldn’t be judged on their teams’ lack of recent championships or blamed because people want to live here. Examine the loyalty of fans through good times and bad, and you’ll find that D.C. stacks up well with almost any major city. Washington hasn’t won a major pro sports championship in 20 years other than the four Major League Soccer trophies DC United took home between 1996 and 2004. Yet D.C. fans are remarkably passionate in supporting their teams.
The most egregious oversight of the poll conducted by the Post is the failure to differentiate between locals and non-locals. Fans from the area are passionate about their teams as much as or more than those from any other city. Those who have been in D.C. for just a few years, for example, the columnists for the Post, are less apt to embrace D.C. teams. That would be true of any city.
One of the measures of D.C. as a great sports town is that it is one of the very few cities that is home to franchises in all five major sports, plus has at least one major college basketball and major college football team.
D.C. has the Redskins, Nationals, Caps, Wizards, and D.C. United. Don’t say MLS isn’t a major sport, because the average MLS game attendance in 2010 was better than that of both the NBA and the NHL. Maryland, just a few miles away from the district line, qualifies as a Washington area university. How many other cities can support teams from this many sports? You can count them on one hand – Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia.
To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.