It's the debate that seems to continually have legs: Is Miami a basketball town, or does its heart belong to football? The answer depends upon whom you ask. Some point to eyeballs on TV sets, but comparing ratings from an 82-game season to one of 16 matchups (which are mostly played on weekends) is stacking the deck. Others point to the most recent success, but that's not giving Miami fans enough credit.
What's not up for debate is this: Over what is no longer a small sample of time, the Heat has given fans many more reasons to invest in the team than the Dolphins. Here are five of those reasons:
5. Trust in the process.
Heat fans have seen the team's front office complete the circle of life that is planting, growing, and enjoying the fruits of its labor. This is a proven, tried-and-true process. The Dolphins couldn't be more of a polar opposite. Nobody trusts their process, partially because it's always a new person trying to install his ideas. Pat Riley has been in Miami for 20 years, so Heat fans know the team is in good hands.
The Heat is another season of Breaking Bad, while the Dolphins are the bonus season of Dexter nobody requested. Being excited about what comes next, and knowing it's coming from the same people who have brought fans so much joy, creates a much more enjoyable experience.
4. Representation of the city of Miami.
Being a Heat fan means being associated with words such as "family," "class," "respect," and "excellence." Being a Dolphins fan means being associated with words like "fired," "Bullygate," "disappointment," and "mediocre." There's a reason why people routinely mention South Beach when they talk about the Heat. That's what the Heat represents. Ever park at a Dolphins game in those gravel lots across the street from the stadium? That's the part of Miami the Dolphins make people think of — a desert of sadness.
You might see a Heat hat onstage at the Grammys. The only stage you see a Dolphins hat on is at Aventura Mall.
3. Respect of the players.
Players sacrifice to play for the
2. Treatment by the team.
For almost two decades, the Dolphins have treated their fans like they are stupid and hid from them when the going got tough. Rarely do people from that organization speak, and when they do, it's like talking to a wall with a robot painted on it. By comparison, the Heat has gone out of its way to include the fans, inform them, and treat them with respect. Nobody hides from an issue. Fans aren't treated like second-class citizens. Rather, they are made to feel like an extension of the team.
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1. Superstars to feel attached to.
Not since Dan Marino and maybe Jason Taylor have the Dolphins had a superstar who fans truly wished would succeed. There's nobody to whom fans feel attached — just strangers coming in, going out, underachieving, being wasted, and, in the end, giving fans zero reason to love. Ryan Tannehill is not that. If Tannehill were cut tomorrow because the Dolphins traded for Aaron Rodgers, people would feel nothing.
If the Heat traded Dwyane Wade for Steph Curry tomorrow and went on to win the title without Wade, fans would feel bad. They'd feel like the championship was worthless. Hell, NBA teams have only 12 active players every night, and fans are totally OK with one of those spots going to Udonis Haslem, because it wouldn't feel right without him.