Originally posted on Midwest Sports Fans  |  Last updated 6/2/12

If you sit down with a handful of sports enthusiasts, even if all are from the same place, debating which city is America’s finest sports environment will always elicit a few different answers.

Therefore, you can usually count on it to stir up a heated exchange.

My list, going from 5 to 1 below, is presented below.

Before we get started, I want you to remember a few things:

  • One, that this list is not discussing the most successful cities, but simply the best sports environments.

Photo courtesy SportsOfBoston.com

  • Two, in order to make the list it has to be one city, not a few scrambled around a state; sorry, Texas.
  • Third and finally, while I wouldn’t mind hearing any of you rip me for my list, just remember that reading it wouldn’t be any fun if we all didn’t have our own opinions over the topic. There’s no formula for this list, and there really isn’t even a way to definitively define what a “good sports environment” is. Even that is different in each of our opinions.

So let’s get right down to it, for fun, starting at number 5 and working our way down to the best sports city in our great country.

5. Los Angeles

At first, the only LA teams that come to mind are the Lakers, Clippers, and Dodgers. But you can’t forget about the likes of the Angels, USC, UCLA, and even the Raiders, who have a huge fan following in Los Angeles.

With each of these teams come a lot of annual sport spectacles throughout the typical year. And right now pretty much all of those teams are experiencing success and/or are turning the corner.

While I do give credit to LA for being a city that has a wide array of teams, and in turn fans, I’m not taking into consideration the teams’ recent success for this list. And unfortunately for those Californians, there isn’t a while lot else going for their city in terms of being a great sports city to bump them up this list.

Why? Sports do not reign supreme in LA, plain and simple. They never will. This is one of the most important factors for me in determining what cities are better than the other. LA revolves around Hollywood. It’s a city that is known for being home to the movie industry and the nonstop “tabloid and paparazzi” atmosphere.

If it weren’t, the Raiders wouldn’t have failed there and moved to Oakland; and matter of fact, another NFL franchise probably would have moved there already. It’s just too hard to predict if the city is the right fit for the biggest sports stage of today’s day and age, the NFL.

Still, LA does deserve some credit for having such a widespread collection of fan bases; I’m sure it makes for some interesting arguments, rivalries, and bets between friends. All in all, #5 is not a bad place for LA to be on this list.

Photo courtesy USA Today

4. Philadelphia

We all know that the city of brotherly love is just about as passionate as they come. Fans go crazy every chance they get. My entire family is from Philly, so I have that blood in me. I’ve spent a ton of time there listening to sports radio and talking sports with my family, who are all big into sports.

If you’re wondering whether or not Philadelphia’s fan base is as harsh and brutal as advertised, the truth is that they are not.

They are even worse.

A great example is with Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid of the Eagles. Despite having a borderline Hall of Fame QB and a great coach that consistently helps orchestrate a Super Bowl contender, Eagle Nation lobbied for them to be traded or released year ’round for about a decade.

All that for a great Phillie of the 21st century who just retired...as a Phillie. They're brutal alright. Photo courtesy NBC Sports

The pessimistic attitude in and of itself is not why I didn’t rank Philly higher on my list. I actually think that type of atmosphere is fun in a weird sort of way. I myself am a very pessimistic sports fan, and I know I get that from my Pennsylvanian roots.

But along with the pessimism can come harsh negativity, and that is why Philly is not in the top couple of spots on the list like many people would rank it.

Philly fans’ irrational, unfair attitudes and standards can sap the fun out of the passion.

It is absurd that they couldn’t fully appreciate McNabb while he was in town doing great things on the field. And if you look at the picture to the right, you see Philadelphia fans ripping on a Phillies’ great of recent years, Pat Burrell, after he left town.

Whether it’s wanting someone to be shipped out of town or disowning them because they do have to leave the city, Philly fans will turn against you in a heart beat. Sure, the tough Rocky-like atmosphere is fun, but it just doesn’t always make sense with today’s sports world.

Another example in addition to Pat Burrell and Donovan McNabb is Ryan Howard. Despite being one of the best power hitters in all of baseball throughout recent years and contributing to a World Series title, whenever I go on a trip there during the summer months, all I hear are attacks on him for striking out too much. Seriously, guys? Sure, one of our writers here at MSF agrees with you, but besides Albert Pujols you don’t get much better at first base than Howard. Appreciate what ‘ya got.

I’ve got a lot to say about Philadelphia. Here’s another huge flaw for their city: there is a very clear tier system in place as far as how much each sport is supported.

Even if, say, the Flyers and Phillies are on top of the world, the city will still be bitter if the Eagles aren’t doing well (even as far as having a poor off season). While there’s nothing wrong with a hierarchy like this being in place, as there is in other cities that I’ve ranked higher, there is no reason for them to intersect and effect one another negatively.

Philadelphians loved seeing their Phillies win the World Series a few years back, but you’d still hear more complaints about the Eagles than you would praise of the Phillies. This plays into the irrational mindset of the Philly fan base.

Obviously all of that was describing why Philly is not ranked higher, but being behind just three cities is certainly not a bad thing. I don’t want this to come off as a rant putting down the City of Brotherly Love. It’s splitting hairs at the top of the list.

Philadelphia is as passionate as any other city about their sports. They truly do bleed their teams’ colors. But the following cities do as well, and do not possess the major flaws that Philadelphia does in terms of the sports environments.

Photo courtesy visitphilly.com

*****

There are numbers 4 and 5; which cities will be 1-2-3?

Continue reading to find out.

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