Miami sports fans are a proud, eclectic, cocky bunch. You know them you see 'em. You could take fans from each team, dress them in plain white shirts, line them up, and nine out of ten times quickly point out the ones who root for the South Florida squads. Local teams' fans emit a unique, shall we say, eau de Miami.
Other cities can't duplicate it. This eau is impossible to put into words, but here are a few ways you know you're in the presence of a card-carrying, bona fide, authentic Miami sports fan.
Every time someone takes a picture, it's all about that "U." Miami Hurricanes fans are fantastic at sign language. If they aren't throwing up a "U" for the University of Miami in a picture, they're pointing four fingers into the sky because it's the fourth quarter. Throwing up the "U" is now a universally accepted signal you're about that Coral Gables life.
You could be in an airport in Salt Lake City, Tokyo, or Kenya, and chances are if you stayed in the same place throwing up the "U" long enough, you'd end up talking Canes football with a stranger. It's a fraternity. Whether you went to FIU, FAU, FAMU, or any other U — if you throw that "U" in the air, you'll find friends.
You still call the Dolphins' home "Joe Robbie Stadium." True local sports fans will always refer to that giant gathering place in Miami Gardens by the name of the team's founder. Everything else is just branding and — as we've seen over the years — temporary.
We actually like the current appellation, Hard Rock Stadium, better than the original. Since Stephen Ross dumped $500 million into refurbishing the joint, it looks better than it did when it opened. But none of that will ever change the fact that it's Joe Robbie Stadium forever. Nor will it divert from the reality that the stadium is built on an Indian burial ground. But that's an entirely different discussion for another day.
Win or lose, your children always look like fun-size you on game day. You want the best for your children, and when it comes to sports teams, you give them the Dolphins, Heat, Marlins, and Canes gear. And they like it. Even if the losses pile up and the logos change, you still buy the new gear. It's an addiction.
Have you ever met Dolphins fans who bought their kids Tom Brady jerseys? No, you haven't, because those psychopaths do not exist. The kids get a Dan Marino jersey and like it even if the former quarterback is old enough to be their grandpa now.
It's not only 305 until you die. It's also 305 after you die. Your kids must carry the sports-pain torch.
When someone says "the Big Pink Elephant," you don't think of a kids' book but the Miami Arena. Oh, how far we've come. The Miami Heat and Florida Panthers once played in the same place: a large, very pink, but otherwise very nondescript place. That might sound crazy to some people under 30, but that's exactly what was going down from 1988 to 1999.
If you're too young to remember the big pink building, ask a family member what it was like to park down the street behind a chain-link fence, climb the steps, and watch the Heat lose by 34. It was dark, dammit, dark as hell for a while.
Thankfully, Micky Arison and Pat Riley came around in the mid-'90s and the Heat classed up the joint. Now the team plays in a palace on the bay, and the Panthers, well, they skate next to Sawgrass Mills Mall — still better!
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You're confident even when the teams stink. There is just something about Miami sports fans — they ooze cockiness and confidence regardless of the scoreboard or roster. The Miami Hurricanes are probably the best example. The team hasn't won an ACC title since... ever? It has contended for a title for nearly two decades. It doesn't matter, though: Miami sports fans will peacock before, during, and after the game. Even if it's a loss. Dade County makes us confident. Or maybe it's in the DNA.
Cocky Miami Heat Fan is the most talked-about. Hell, that was a thing before LeBron James came to Miami, During that time, between 2010 and 2014, it became legendary.
Miami fans are, and always will be, the loudest, cockiest, and most confident fans you'll find. That is, unless you're at a Marlins game. That's another story.