With Cavs and Guradians resurgance, is Cleveland still a ‘football city’?

“Many Cleveland fans don’t really seem to care about the Guardians and Cavs as much as the Browns unless they make it to the postseason,” said Cody Johnson, a fan service representative for the Guardians.

As the Guardians and Cavaliers prove to be playoff contenders, some members within Cleveland’s sports community are hoping that they will begin to receive the same attention as the NFL’s Browns.  

Football has long been the most viewed sport in the United States and the large turnout and raucous gameday environment for the Browns has led Cleveland being labeled as a football city, despite being home to two other professional sports teams who – as of recently – perform better.   

Cody Johnson, a fan service representative for the Guardians, said the label of “football city” is unfair.   

“The narrative that Cleveland is a football city doesn’t give the credit all the teams deserve,” Johnson said. “Many Cleveland fans don’t really seem to care about the Guardians and Cavs as much as the Browns unless they make it to the postseason.”  

Jules Mulholland, a Cleveland die-hard known by thousands of followers as @notsocooljules across multiple social media platforms, also said that unless the Cavaliers and Guardians have a great season, their attention from the broader community is lacking.  

“I wish the Cavs and Guardians received the same love and not just when they are having good seasons,” Mulholland said.   

Despite the constant underdog narrative even within its own fanbase, Jake House, a sophomore sport management student who has been employed by all three of Cleveland’s professional sports teams, said Cavaliers fans have been more committed and excited for the future even through hardships. This is no doubt helped by the team having broken a 52-year, city-wide championship drought with an NBA Championship win in 2016. 

Through her experience, Christina Westlake, a Cleveland sports fan, said that her fellow supporters are “passionate and never give up.” 

Westlake wants to see Cleveland sports teams focus more on building a positive environment for fans than winning. 

As the Browns, Cavaliers and Guardians look for success, everyone involved within Cleveland’s sports community has the potential to contribute to uplifting and supporting the three teams equally and build a positive environment in the city.   

“Fans should be more courteous about the environment around them and just enjoy the game,” House said, “but that’s in a perfect world.”  

Johnson said: “We have players who love and embrace the city, I would like to see fans give them that same energy back.”  

As Cleveland will soon be home to a third-tier Major League Soccer NEXT Pro team in 2025, the Cleveland sport’s environment will receive another team for potential support.