Sports Scene in Arizona is Alive and Kicking, Be Loud and Proud
By Scott Allen
So, recapping the current sports scene in Arizona:
1. The Fiesta Bowl is in a midst of a scandal
2. The Phoenix Coyotes are the 4th best team in the Western Conference, but might still move to Canada
3. The Phoenix Suns are about to miss the playoffs, one year removed from the Western Conference Finals
4. The Arizona Cardinals are in the midst of an NFL Lockout, jeopardizing the status of the 2011 season
5. The Arizona Wildcats just came off a nice run to the Elite 8 in basketball but may be losing its top player to the NBA
There is nothing wrong with sports in general in Arizona. We just sometimes have bad teams with people that make poor decisions. We have events with bad people who run them. You might think it reflects bad on Arizona, but really you can leave that to the politicians. They do most of that work on their own. We sometimes forget sports is when it all boils down to it, entertainment. Yes, it is a business, even in college, but even so, the reason that sports exist is because it is meant to entertain. There just happens to be billions of dollars at stake and that is why I think the perception of the state of sports is skewed sometimes, especially in Arizona.
Each of the teams/events I mentioned above have all had good runs, even our Arizona Cardinals finally. Remember the days when it was just the Phoenix Suns, Fiesta Bowl, ASU and U of A? That's all there was. Ok, sure we had indoor soccer and a minor league hockey team, but those have moved on. Phoenix (and representing the state of Arizona) has grown into a major league market. In the past 24 years, we've added NFL football, MLB baseball, NHL hockey, an Arena football team and a WNBA basketball team. Let's also not forget what an event the PGA Tour brings every year either. Oh yeah, and there is that thing called spring training as well, which brings the Arizona Diamondbacks and 14 other MLB teams to town for a month and a half.
I realize some of the negative perception is also brought on by the fact that many people here, myself NOT included, are from other places. Typically the complainers are the transplants, the ones that came from other cities and towns who are used to watching successful franchises and events. Yeah, I can't lump all transplants into complainers, but the natives know what it used to be like here as recently as the 1980's when there wasn't as much going on sports wise. People live and die by the original pro sports franchise in Arizona, the Phoenix Suns. Good or bad, you will always hear the natives provide support. It's a mixed bag with the transplants. Much of that is because the transplants still support the team from the place they moved here from. I don't have a problem with that. I'm a homer myself. I just wish they would provide more support for the local teams, good and bad (its ok if you don't support ASU - disclaimer: I'm a U of A grad).
That being said it would be a disappointment to see the Coyotes leave. What would we do without all those obnoxious Red Wings fans to kick around. How about the Cardinals? If they just disappeared, where do the idiot Cowboys fans go? If we no longer had the Suns, we couldn't chant Lakers suck everytime they came to town. As for the Dbacks, well, we know what happens when teams like the Cubs, Phillies, Mets, Yankees, and Red Sox come to town. Almost unbearable to go to those games as a Dbacks fan.
As good or bad as teams are, there are a few very nice facilities in town to watch those events at. University of Phoenix Stadium is an excellent place to watch football. The stadium probably wouldn't have been built without the Fiesta Bowl. The Cards had been looking for a new home for 18 years before finally getting a place of their own instead of that God awful Sun Devil Stadium. Jobing.com Arena is a great facility for hockey. US Airways Arena is a little older, but still a very good arena for all kinds of events. Chase Field is a beautiful ballpark to watch a baseball game in. I'm not excited about their upper deck, but still a nice facility.
Just think, it could be worse. For the locals, the choices we have for sports entertainment are almost endless, no matter how the teams are performing. At least we have choices. We could be Los Angeles and have no football. We could be Sacramento or Kansas City, Seattle or Vancouver and have no basketball. Even if the Coyotes up and move, we still have choices. It can always be worse, so when something goes wrong like with the Fiesta Bowl or a team's uncertain future like the Coyotes or a team just goes south in a hurry like the Suns, at least we have those teams and events. Arizona is a beautiful place to live and love 'em or hate 'em, all those teams and events are ours and they should be embraced. Don't let a couple of bad apples ruin the entire tree.