Florida’s has a rich sporting history and many famous and iconic sportspeople.
Possibly the most famous team globally is The Miami Dolphins, Florida’s main National Football League team. Founded in 1966 by Joe Robbie and comedian Danny Thomas, the team quickly won the support of Florida, which had lost its previous team, the Miami Seahawks, in 1946 when they moved to form the Baltimore Colts.
The Dolphins’ most iconic player was quarterback Dan Marino, who is still rated as one of the finest quarterbacks of all time. Florida’s other teams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Jacksonville Jaguars, both have loyal support today and produce some excellent football.
Florida has one major basketball team, The Miami Heat, who play in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Their first year in the NBA was 1988 and they rose to prominence during the late 1990s. Their real turning point was the arrival of Pat Riley who took the team on to the Conference Finals in 1997. They lost the finals and for several years after went into decline, but the arrival of Dwayne Wade in 2003 led to a real resurgence and they had their first championship win in 2006.
Baseball is huge in Florida. The Miami Marlins are South Florida’s Major League Baseball (MLB) team. The Miami Marlins were established in 1993. They won the World Series title in 1997 and again in 2003, beating the Cleveland Indians and then the New York Yankees. Their top players include the legends, Josh Beckett, Luis Castillo, Jeff Conine and Andre Dawson.
The Florida Panthers are South Florida’s National Hockey League (NHL) team. They have had several Hickey Hall of Fame members of the years, including Ed Belfour, Igor Larionov and Dino Ciccarelli. They won the Prince of Wales Trophy in 1996.
The Fort Lauderdale Strikers, formally the Miami FC Strikers, are a North American Soccer League team based in South Florida. They are building strong and loyal support from all over the state. They were founded in 2006 and were known as Miami FC until 2011. They have a fierce in-state rivalry with the Tampa Bay Rowdies that leads to some of the most exciting matches of the season.
They have attracted many highly skilled international players. The Florida climate is more appealing to Brazilians than that of the northern states. Most notable players include Romário from Brazil. Today the team has players from England, Argentina, Cuba and Uruguay. They have three strong supporter groups, Flight 19, Miami Ultras and Tri Rail Firm.
Basketball is one of Florida’s most successful sports in terms of the number of people playing as a pastime. In fact, many people in Florida set up their own indoor basketball courts to practice.
Florida’s NCAA Basketball Team is Florida Gators that dates back to 1915 when the University of Florida sponsored the first Florida Gators men’s varsity basketball team. In 1932, they joined the Southeastern Conference. The Florida Gators have won two NCAA national championships and were the first team to win back-to-back championships.
Florida is a fantastic state for sports fans; there is certainly something for everybody.