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An Open Letter To The City of Atlanta

From a disgruntled fan who wants to see the city shine.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Dear City of Atlanta,

Hey, it’s Joe (again). I’m sure at this point you’ve heard from plenty of other people, so you probably already know why I’m writing to you. But I still have to ask, and please don’t act coy with me this time around. Are you sure you aren’t cursed?

Does this all have something to do with you selling your soul a little to land a deal for the 1996 Olympics? It definitely seems that way. I mean, it kind of adds up seeing how you didn’t have a major sports championship for a while since the 1995 Braves World Series ring - nine months before said Olympics.

Of course we claim the Atlanta United championship. Any team that pulls up to Magic City, trophy in hand, is a true champion of the city in my eyes. We should be proud of our MLS success, but they were new to your streets, so they couldn’t fully get wrapped up in your curse.

So that brings me back to why I’m writing to you. Why must you make the people who love you watch yet another collapse? To be honest, I’ll give you credit for helping the Falcons find new and creative ways to lose games each week. It’s extremely impressive. This time around the Falcons managed to score a game-losing touchdown! Which sounds absolutely insane to say, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary for this season.

It’s also especially tough not to feel some type of way when the LA Dodgers present a constant reminder of your failures. Watching them battle for a World Series ring against the Tampa Bay Rays, it’s impossible not to think that could have been the Braves. Who of course were eliminated by blowing a 3-1 series lead against those same Dodgers in the NLCS.

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Did this specific blow have something to do with you punishing the team for running away to the ‘burbs of Cobb County? Because that’s not our fault. When the Braves moved their stadium out of the hood you just let it happen. Now inner city fans (predominantly Black) can now barely reach you. Because it’s funny that your transit system MARTA just conveniently doesn’t run to that area. Or how a 30 minute drive turns into a two-hour commute because of the clusterfuck you call highways.

I have plenty of fond memories remembering Turner field as the Braves true home. I’ll never forget my childhood days of going to games and eating Cookies ‘n Cream Dippin Dots out of a mini helmet. How could I forget the crowd’s eruption when Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” ran through the PA system because it was time for Chipper Jones to dig his cleats into the batter’s box. Now ole Larry could have come with something that slapped a lil harder than “Crazy Train,” but I digress. Or how could I forget trying to piece together the hazy memories of tailgating in the blue lot going into my adulthood.

So, Atlanta, when you turned the same stadium that Muhammad Ali once lit the Olympic Torch in into a low capacity Georgia State football stadium surrounded by plans of gentrification passed off as redevelopment — I tried to understand where you were coming from. I tried to shake it off because I thought maybe with the Braves escaping city limits, you might also let them escape your curse. Instead, you doubled down.

Look. I’m not here to remind you about all the misfortunes that you’ve been through. I’m not going to berate you about paying off historic churches, and hanging on taxpayers cash to build stadiums, or list off the countless blown leads that you’ve gifted to your faithful fans. Because me and you both know what happened, and there’s no sense of reliving anymore past pain. It just confuses me that a city with so much rich history can come up so short, so often, when it matters most.

But you know what? I forgive you. I forgive you because this pain is what us fans have sadly come to expect from you. This is nothing new. But I mainly forgive you because of everything you’ve given us outside of sports.

You birthed one of the great civil-rights leaders in Martin Luther King Jr. and opened your arms to the late John Lewis. You protected one of hip-hop’s most exceptional groups in OutKast as they repped you at every turn, and kicked down the doors for other ATLien rappers to follow in their path as they screamed the south got something to say. You let a pharmacist who was bold enough to mix cocaine with fruit flavors create one of the most popular sodas worldwide. You are the birthplace of Waffle House, a restaurant that I’ve been to many times and ordered the same thing but never paid the same price, because each time is a unique experience.

What I’m getting at, essentially, is that you’re special. You’re a city rich with diversity, culture and filled with legends. But you’re not a city of winners — at least, not yet. I’m proud to call this place home, and would be hard pressed to give up everything you’ve given to me and the world in exchange for some championship rings and lobster rolls. But it’s extremely hard not to hide my face when you embarrass yourself on the largest stage. So all I ask is that you maybe consider not cursing your sports teams, because you have a city full of people ready to scream your name from the mountain tops when the time comes. And I’m hoping that’s sooner rather than later.

Much love,

Joe Ali