Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Top Ten Reasons Why We LOVE Sports: Day Ten

#1) The Championship Runs – These are what everyone remembers.  The hard work, the luck, the close wins, the blowouts, the controversies, the questionable decisions, the last seconds of the clock, the trophy.  Is there anything better than knowing your team is top dog and just proved it?  Absolutely not, unless your team wins back to back championships. 

The essence of a championship run though is one of two things: a rag-tag team that has to prove themselves game after game and the team that looks unstoppable and is.  Sometimes those two meet for the championship even.  I can think of two such instances that stick out to me.  The first took place on February 3rd, 2008, Super Bowl XLII.  New England entered the game as the first team to go 16-0 in a 16 game season and was looking like just the second team in NFL history to win a Super Bowl undefeated.  New York entered with a 10-6 regular season record and, not counting those playoffs, hadn’t won a playoff game in seven years.  The Giants overcame what was thought to be impossible odds and won, upsetting the Patriots and capping a historic post season, a historic championship run. 

The other game that comes to mind occurred on January 3, 2003.  The Miami Hurricanes came into the National Championship after winning it last year and winning their past 34 games.  The Ohio State Buckeyes entered the game after losing last season’s bowl game but finishing that season with a 13-0 record.  The buckeyes won six of those games by seven points or less.  In the end, Ohio State won much like they did in those close six games, by seven points.  Ohio State finished their championship run, going 14-0 and being the first team to do so.  Both the Giants and the Buckeyes were two touchdown underdogs going
into the game.  They proved that, to make history, a championship run is necessary.

That’s what all teams live for.  Winning the championship, making history, being forever remembered.  A championship run defines a team.  It builds legacies, honors traditions, provides us fans with hope that the same will happen next season.  That’s why we love the championship runs.

So there it is, my Top Ten Reasons Why We LOVE Sports.
#10) The Offseason
#9) The Underdogs
#8) The Uniforms
#7) The Stadiums
#6) The Food
#5) Making Noise
#4) The Camaraderie
#3) The Commentators
#2) The Rivalries
#1) The Championship Runs

That’s my list and I'm sticking to it… for now.  Let me know if you think I put something in the wrong place or left something off the list.  And never quit LOVING sports.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Top Ten Reasons Why We LOVE Sports: Day Nine

#2) The Rivalries – Where to start, where to start.  There are so many rivalries in the world of sports that I'm not going to be able to put them all here.  Let’s try it anyways.

Slater v Irons, USA v Mexico, Affirmed v Alydar, Australia v New Zealand, Gatti v Ward, Rice v Sanders, Schwarzenegger v Oliva, Leonard v Duran, Woods v Mickelson, Busch v Johnson, Williams v DiMaggio, Brazil v Argentina, Sampras v Agassi, Canadiens v Leafs, Army v Navy, Hogan v Snead, Earnhardt v Waltrip, Navratilova v Evert, India v Pakistan, Yarborough v Allison, Ravens v Steelers, Chamberlain v Russell, Manchester United v Liverpool.  Phew!  Still with me?  Hagen v Jones, Edwards v Keselowski, Bird v Johnson, Federer v Nadal, Duke v North Carolina, Real Madrid v Barcelona, Manning v Brady, Texas v Oklahoma, Canadiens v Bruins, Packers v Bears, Andretti v Foyt, Tennessee v UConn, Giants v Dodgers, Auburn v Alabama, Red Wings v Blackhawks, Celtics v Lakers, Nicklaus v Palmer, Redskins v Cowboys, Yankees v Red Sox, Frazier v Ali.  And of course the Grrreatest rivalry in ALL of sports, Ohio State v TTUN.  I’ll be frank, I did forget about the rivalry with the most relish, Kobayashi v Chestnut.

There they are.  I went through ten different lists of greatest rivalries in sports and I have the majority above.  I want to make it clear though; it’s not the names that make the rivalry, it’s the actions.  A storming of the mound could have started it or maybe a coach crossing lines.  Maybe it’s just because two teams are in the same state or city even and they want to prove who the best is.  Two teams meet year in and year out in the playoffs or championship and a rivalry is born.  The best faces the best.  All those things are what creates a rivalry.  And don’t we just absolutely freaking love it as sports fans.  I mean, come on.  Would we even care if rivalries didn’t exist?  Of course!  Rivalries will always exist and we will always love them. 

There is certain aspects of a rivalry that we love to see though.  The hard fought game between a contender and a pretender, that is only a close game because it’s a rivalry.  Team A comes in the clear favorite.  Team B comes in as mediocre.  It’s all thrown off the table.  Once that game starts, those athletes are the best in the world and they are there to prove it.  Team A wins a championship.  It’s only loss?  Team B was the champion that day.  That is a rivalry.  Perennial powers face off more than it was thought possible.  They don’t like each other because no one likes the opposing team.  The thing that makes it special though is the game within the game.  A trash talker, a dirty play, some show boating.  The next game comes along and the feud continues.  All of a sudden, someone realizes something.  Maybe a reporter, a columnist, an owner, a fan, or a coach or player.  Those two teams?  They just started a rivalry.

Why is a rivalry important though?  It makes that game so much better.  It gives TV stations more money and the commentators more to talk about.  It shows that no team is invincible.  So whether you like the origins of your favorite rivalry or not, continue to root for your team.  Continue to hope and pray that this year, your team comes out on top over the bitter rivals.  While you’re at it, eat that soggy hot dog and wear that everlasting jersey.  And always remember: when facing a rival, they are the enemy and you win at all costs.

Check in tomorrow for #1.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Top Ten Reasons Why We LOVE Sports: Day Eight

#3) The Commentators – Commentary has gone along with the game since the game’s origins.  There have been so many great voices over the years.  To me, these guys, and gals, bring the game to life.  I know some people don’t like the commentators, but they add something to the game if you ask me.  A great voice goes a long, long way. 

Let’s start with The Voice of God, John Facenda.  NFL Films sure as hell knew what they were doing when they brought him in.  Majestic, profound, simplistic.  “It starts with a whistle and ends with a gun.”  “The Autumn Wind is a raider, pillaging just for fun.  He'll knock you 'round and upside down, and laugh when he's conquered and won.”  “As the fourth period began, Denver’s determined offense still needed more restoration work from Norris Weese, what it got instead was a demolition job from the Doomsday Defense.”  It is truly incredible listening to the greatest voice football has ever known. 

Moving right along now.  Who doesn’t love the English commentary of a European futbol game?  “The ball flew straight into the goal, it looked like a frozen rope.”  I don’t know many English commentators, but Ian Darke is who I like best.  Since 2010 he has worked with ESPN, commentating to us silly, futbol-illiterate, Americans.  He did the 2010 FIFA World Cup and will do it again in 2014.  He also commentated the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup with Julie Foudy and that’s when I started to love his commentary.  Listen in futbol fans, Ian Darke is here to stay, thanks to ESPN.

The last commentator I chose to highlight in detail is someone who most of you will not know.  He announces the Glass City Marathon and the Sylvania Triathlon and Duathlon.  He is known by me simply as Announcer Bob which is okay.  There’s someone like him in every state and country.  We all have our favorite marathon announcers, if running is your forte.  You know the scene though.  Spectators line the end of the route leading to the finish line.  Every runner has their family waiting for them to get the picture of them breaking the imaginary finish tape.  The first placers cross the line, which is great, but the real show begins once the majority start rolling in.  Announcer Bob has his spotter who catches the runners’ numbers from 50 yards away.  He then looks up the number and announces the runners’ name and home town.  Announcer Bob then goes into detail about the runner and how they talked before the race or how he knows the family.  Sometimes he talks about the home town; like, “Where the heck is Island Plains, New York?  Good job Tom Smith!  Way to finish!”  Then there’s the races within the race.  The battles to the finish line.  “They’re neck and neck, toe for toe, right down the line!  Come on, folks, let’s hear it for these two fine competitors!”  The crowd goes wild and it’s too close to call.  Then, “Here comes Jane Smith and it appears she’s got some little ones right on her tail!  Congratulations Jane!  Great finish!”  If you have any idea what I'm talking about, then you know this is truly something spectacular to watch. 

Now time to finish things off.  I don’t have the time these commentators deserve to go in depth, so I’ll just throw them a mention to a few who are my favorites.  Pat Summerall and John Madden.  Brent Musburger, Brad Nessler, Beth Mowins.  Marv Albert and Reggie Miller.  Joe Buck, who does football and baseball.  I think he’s better doing baseball myself.  Bob Uecker.  Mike Tirico, who does just about everything.  Al Michaels, who commentated the 1980 Miracle on Ice and does Sunday Night Football for NBC now.  Those names were in no particular order and definitely deserve much, much more praising than I can give them here. 

Check in tomorrow for #2. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Top Ten Reasons Why We LOVE Sports: Day Seven

#4) The Camaraderie – The whole point to play sports or watch sports is to have fun, right?  Okay, maybe not, but it’s a huge portion of the point, next to winning.  Merriam-Webster defines camaraderie as a spirit of friendly good-fellowship.  Basically, camaraderie is getting along very well with the people around you.  Fans getting along with fans. Players getting along with players, and coaches. 

To have camaraderie is something special.  You can’t find it growing on a tree or even on eBay.  No, it takes two or more people that just understand each other and, in the end, have a common goal.  For the fans, that goal is making sure they see the whole game and hopefully from a reasonable seat.  For the players and coaches it’s obviously winning the game and eventually winning championships.  At least that’s what we hope the players and coaches want to do, and that their not just in it for the money. 

What camaraderie really is though, pertaining to the sports world, is having the greatest time of your life.  Having fun.  A team of players competing week in and week out, playing the game they love with teammates they love even more.  It truly is one of the most perfect examples of camaraderie, next to America’s Military.  When it comes to the fans’ camaraderie, we all remember the first game our Dad took us to.  We all remember when Mom finally picked out a jersey for game days.  A memory I will always love is going to my hometown hockey team’s games with my Grandmother.  She loves hockey.  Not because it’s incredibly hard to skate and shoot a puck at the same time.  Not because of the scoring or the horn after the score.  No, it’s because of the fights.  That’s right, my Grandmother loves hockey because of the fights.  She loves seeing two opponents rip their gloves off and duke it out.  The camaraderie that is lost by those two opponents is surely gained by my Grandmother and I, and I couldn’t love it any more. 

So there you have it.  Camaraderie is #4.  Check in tomorrow for #3.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Top Ten Reasons Why We LOVE Sports: Day Six

#5) Making Noise – There are many types of noise.  There’s baby noise, car noise, dog barking at 3 AM noise, you’re annoying, why are you talking to me noise, I live next to the airport noise, and so much more.  What this article is about though is sports noise.  It’s the best noise around and everyone contributes. 

From the coach yelling at the players, to the QB or PG calling out the play, to the fans in the stands, to the band, and even the humming from the Goodyear blimp.  It all adds up to turn into something great.  Making noise is just so darned fun!  There’s no way you can disagree with me either, because as a sports fan, you expect there to be loud noises and to make your own loud noises when you go to a game.  A touchdown is scored: fans cheer ecstatically.  The home team has a 2 point lead with little time in the fourth quarter of a basketball game: home fans shout “DEFENSE! DEFENSE! DEFENSE!”.  You’re at an international futbol game:  Vuvuzelas are all you can hear.  Go to any hockey game: there is at least one instance where somebody yells “HIT SOMEBODY!”. 

And there’s the on field noise.  The defense yelling “pass, pass”.  The offense getting the play call from the sideline.  The chatter coming from trainers who don’t have anything to do.  The whistle of the ref.  The bounce of the basketball.  The collision of pads.  The squeak of sneakers.  The boot of a football or futbol.  The ping of the baseball as is comes off the bat.  The puck slamming and ricocheting off the glass.  All those sounds are part of why we love sports.  It all just seems to make sense.  If those noises don’t happen, it doesn’t seem real.

They do happen though.  And whether or not you’re making noise because your team is winning or losing, or you’re doing it because you hate the other team, or maybe you’re just like any other red blooded sports fan and love to make noise.  It’s all okay, all accepted.  So go ahead, make some noise people.

Check in tomorrow for #4.