Florida has teams involved in all major league sports. Contrary to popular belief, Florida and America as a whole are passionate about dozens of sports, not just American Football and baseball. More notably over recent years, soccer has grown in popularity in the USA…that’s football to me and you. Some of the greatest sports personalities in history have graced their respected sports in the sunshine state, from current basketball MVP (most valuable player) LeBron James to Brazilian footballing legend Kaka.
We’ve decided to do a bit of research and delve deep into what teams in Florida are considered the best, taking into account star players, championships and fan bases. We managed to narrow it down to 5 teams, from a range of sports. Hopefully, you’ll find one you like, you might even see some familiar names.
Since were talking about US teams here, lets start with the classic all-American sport, American football. Its ingrained heavily into US culture, and so theres no team around Florida that doesnt take the matter lightly. Especially the Jacksonville Jaguars. Hailing from the city of Jacksonville in the North Western areas of Floridas Panhandle region, these guys know how to make a touchdown or two in the scorching Florida heat. Theyre a 2-time division championship winner with 6 playoff qualifications under their belt. The Jags have also made an appearance at this years AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots. If youre in the city of Jacksonville, you just have to make a trip to TIAA Bank Field for game day, as this team are one of the greatest professional football franchises in all of America.
Orlando City F.C
The Popularity of football in America has risen at a rapid rate and only seems to be growing, the men’s international team are ranked a respectable 32nd
in the world and the women’s national team ranked 1st
due to their 2015 historical triumph in the Women’s World cup. The popularity of football in America can be traced back to 3 men, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and a certain David Beckham. Each of these men took the footballing world by the scruff of the neck in their playing days. Most notably David Beckhams transfer to LA Galaxy in 2007 sparked the beginning of the soccer revolution in America, with big money in advertisement deals and television revenue funding future endeavours in the sport, the only way was up for soccer. Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey have each played in the Premier League and collected bundles of fans along the way. Today you’ll find some of the best players in the world playing in the MLS (Major Soccer League), including the likes of Chelsea legend Didier Drogba and the Italian midfield maestro Andre Pirlo.
Florida has its own professional soccer team in the form of Orlando City SC. Founded only 2 years ago, Orlando City SC has enjoyed a relatively quiet first season in the MLS but still managed to sell over 13,000 season tickets, a remarkable feat for such a newly found club. Their popularity could be down to the fact that they’re the first MLS franchise located in the state of Florida, or because they have attracted the likes of the former world player of the year Kaka…we’ll go with the latter. The popularity of soccer in America will only continue to grow and you can expect Orlando City SC to keep bringing in world-class players. If you’re ever in Downtown Orlando, pop into the Orlando Citrus Bowl (Orlando City SC home stadium) to catch a game, the atmosphere is electric and the quality of football is a joy to behold…you never know you might become a fan.
The popularity of the NBA (The National Basketball Association) was at an unshakable high during the 1980s, thanks to some incredible players, now considered legends of the game. Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson to name a few. When certain players retired, the game inevitably suffered and unfortunately saw a drop in popularity and revenue during the early 2000s. Thankfully this slump passed and fast-forward to today, the NBA is arguably more popular than ever before, watched my millions alone in North America. With the birth of some fantastic players including Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant and LeBron James, NBA looks set to deliver the same tremendous highs of the 1980s. The popularity of the NBA All-Star events have given the sport a diverse personality and gives fans the opportunity to enjoy a different side to the sport, attracting high television ratings, increases in attendance and a boost in television revenue.
Miami Heat are arguably one of the best if not the best team in the whole NBA. Described by many as an “explosive force” they play with an attacking attitude with some serious flair that leaves fans wanting more after every game. They play as a unit and have some of the most elite players in the whole sport. They enjoyed their greatest spell in history in 2012, signing Lebron James and winning the NBA championship in 2012 and again in 2013. Take a trip to Miami and stop of at the American Airlines Arena to catch a game and a hotdog, you won’t be disappointed.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Ice Hockey can be considered quite an obscure sport in terms of world-wide popularity. It doesn’t quite have the appeal of American Football or basketball but it still delivers incredible thrills and drama that deserves to be witnessed in person. Played at a break-neck pace some of the sport’s greatest stars are considered to be some of the most talented and fittest you’ll find anywhere. North Americans absolutely love the sport and television ratings are on par with the NBA.
Tampa Bay Lightning are Florida’s main professional ice hockey team based in Tampa. Established back in 1992, the Lightning play in the Eastern Conference and had their biggest success back in 2004 winning a historic Stanley Cup. They play their home games in the Amalie Arena which holds an amazing 19,000. You should definitely consider watching a game of hockey, forget what you may think of the sport, once you’re there the atmosphere will pull you in and never let go. Most recently the Tampa Bay Lightening’s last season ended in a Stanley Cup final defeat at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks, reaching the final is an incredible feat in itself and the future looks promising. You might just catch a game at the perfect time.
Americans love baseball. For years now baseball has been seen as a social sport, a place where you can go to hang out with friends and family, drink beer and scoff down hot dogs and burgers. Unlike most sports, baseball is more about individual achievement rather than a collaborative effort from a team. This is what makes it so appealing, the sense of individualism adds to the excitement and adds to the legacy a player can leave behind. History shows baseball was the first sports game popularised in American, cementing itself in the hearts and minds of many. The rivalries can be more than intense and local derbies give a sense of community and passion unrivalled by most sports. The slow pace of the game gives it more of a casual personality, one where you don’t necessarily have to be switched on the whole time to enjoy. The calming nature of baseball only adds to the appeal and witnessing a game live makes for a fantastic day/night out.
Florida, of course, has its own baseball team in the form of The Miami Marlins based in the beautiful Miami. They play at the Marlins Park and are a member of the East division in Major League Baseball. Nicknamed “The Fightin ‘Fish” the Miami Marlins have featured in Back to the Future Part II and are the first team in Major League Baseball to have a cheer/dance squad. If you’re a sports fan, you’ll love seeing the Marlins in action, they play great baseball and always get the crowd going. If you’re more of a casual sports fan the atmosphere, food and casual nature of the game will still entertain you even if you don’t have the slightest interest in baseball.
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