For the record, I never once said I hate sports. This was always meant as a two-part article: what bothers me about sports, and what I love about sports. Sports has been my hobby and passion for as long as I can remember, so here is what I love about sports…
The underdog: I love watching the VCUs and Butlers of the world. Experts have had Butler losing every game during the last two NCAA tournaments and both years they defied the odds and made it to the championship game. I love watching David take down Goliath. It doesn’t apply as much to professional sports, but you still have the Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates of the world representing out there. I wish I could have been alive during the Miracle on Ice.
The little guy: This is for the guys who should not have made it as far as they have. This list includes J.J Barea, David Eckstein (5’7 shortstop for the World Series winning Cardinals), Doug Flutie, and Nate Robinson (even though he is crazy athletic). I am probably partial here because I’m a little guy, but I love seeing guys succeed who don’t seem to possess anything special.
Childhood heroes: There are definitely better heroes for people to have than athletes, but there is an absolute bond between a child who is first beginning to follow sports and his or her first favorite player(s). My favorite athletes growing up were Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. I followed their every move and tried to play baseball exactly like they did. My eyes would light up every time I saw them on TV. I was extremely fortunate that they both played for the Astros their entire careers. There will never be another athlete that approaches such an iconic status for me. Sorry about getting sentimental there, I just miss them…
Being at a game: There are times I would rather watch a game at home because you can see more details of the game from the TV. But you can’t beat the atmosphere of an exciting sporting event. Screaming at the top of your lungs with 60,000 other strangers is quite a unique experience.
The Olympics: I love rooting like crazy for athletes I have never heard of in sports I only watch twice a decade just because they sport the red, white, and blue. It is the perfect blend of athletic competition and national pride.
Watching your team succeed after years of failure: Bandwagon fans are excluded here. The Pittsburgh Pirates are competing for first place for the first time in 20 years. They have been the definition of a horrible sports franchise during that entire drought. Now that they are competing, I’m sure their true fans are just having the time of their lives. It’s tough to support a horrible franchise, but watching them finally succeed somehow makes you feel like you accomplished something as a fan. Sometimes it is only one special year (Arizona Cardinals), but it makes all the losing worth it. Yankee fans are missing out.
The announcers: I love it when announcers get excited during one of those special moments. Al Michael’s absolutely nailed the Miracle on Ice. I don’t like it when announcers unnecessarily praise athletes, but I do like it when they bring energy to a game.
The game itself: Storylines write themselves in sports. You really never know what is going to happen. Watching your favorite team makes you nervous and tense, and you love it. You can even watch a game between two teams that you have absolutely no interest, and after a few minutes, you are all of a sudden invested and rooting like crazy for one team. Something special can happen at any game. It is a pleasure watching a guy score 40 points or a running back gain 200 yards. I even consider Federer effortlessly play a grueling match or a perfect Phil Mickleson golf swing to be artistic. It is easy to dislike athletes these days, but their abilities captivate us in awe. The event itself is, and always will be, a joy to watch.