By David Mullen
This column often points out the negativity associated with sports. It is really just meant to be a constant appraisal of the state of sports today. Some will say that many of us take sports too seriously, and they would be correct and I am guilty as charged. I know that a game is not a life or death situation, it just seems that way.
Attending a sporting event or viewing a sport on television is supposed to be a pleasant escape from reality. We were reminded of that last Sunday evening, when millions of people from different races and creeds and sexes gathered together to watch an unforgettable football game from Minneapolis. It had all of the elements that make sports so great. It was David versus Goliath.
The underdogs would be the otherwise hated Philadelphia Eagles. But they were underdogs, and America loves the underdog. The villains were the reigning champion New England Patriots led by the man in the cut-off hoodie — the irascible Bill Belichick — and the once unflappable, turned increasingly bitter quarterback, Tom Brady.
The likeable, backup Eagles quarterback Nick Foles shocked the world by becoming an unlikely Super Bowl MVP. Brady turned in a remarkable performance by throwing for more than 500 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions and still lost. It was a game that reminds us why sports are so special.
So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, let’s hand out a dozen roses for the love of the games. The first rose goes to Philadelphia. Maybe a stinking rose given part of their fan base. But, the Eagles’ valiant victory is one of the reasons why people are obsessed with sports. The other Valentine’s Day roses go to:
Spring training baseball. Young, potential stars playing with veterans in the warmth of the Florida or Arizona sun. So few MLB regular season games are played during the day anymore. Whether it counts or not, spring training baseball during the day is as pure as it gets.
NCAA basketball tournament. Brackets. Sixty-eight teams. Upsets galore. Chances are you have some affiliation with one of the teams. But watch out. No matter how much you know about college basketball, even your grandmother can beat you in an NCAA bracket pool.
The baseball box score. When the Sporting News was the only place to find out-of-town box scores, I would run to the mailbox as a kid to get the weekly issue. With today’s technology, box scores are available in real time, but they still bring back memories and they are a great chronicle of the game.
The Masters. May everyone get a chance to go to Augusta National. It is as beautiful a golf course as you have ever seen. That said, the final round of tournament is better on TV.
Kentucky Derby. May everyone get a chance to go to Churchill Downs. It is as beautiful an event as you have ever seen. That said, the horse race is better at the track.
Live playoff hockey. Ask a longtime Stars fan. They won’t talk about the two Stanley Cup Finals here in Dallas. They will talk about how loud it was in Reunion Arena during Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals against the Colorado Avalanche in 1999.
The Indianapolis 500. It is America’s classic auto race, and the only place where 300,000 people can live in harmony for a day, save a march on Washington, D.C.
Watching the NFL on a Sunday at a Las Vegas sportsbook. Sports and betting. Peanut butter and jelly. They just go together like agony and ecstasy.
College GameDay. Not only the ESPN Saturday morning show, which is a wonderful presentation on a different college campus each week, but just going to a college football game, wearing your colors, visiting with fans of both sides, eating barbeque and drinking a cold beverage.
Sports on the radio. Taking a long drive, working in the backyard or sitting on the porch listening to a ball game on the radio is still as good as it gets.
“Inside the NBA” on TNT. The nine-time EMMY-award winning show with Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal is not only encapsulating, it is often the funniest show on TV.
For every greedy sports executive, owner, player or agent, for every disrespectful act paid to fans by those in sports, there is still a love for the game. You can always find something deserving of a dozen roses or maybe a box of chocolates. Because, like life, sports are like a box of chocolates.