If we could put sports in a bottle...
Our staff takes a look back at the memories that thrilled generations
do we love about sports? It’s not just the championships that are won, or the teams that win them, or the athletes that drive them. It’s the memories, big and small, that remind us — perhaps even today, at the end of all things, if you believe the Mayans — why sports are so important.
It can be as simple as a memory — going to your first pro baseball game, taking your mom to a Texas-Texas A&M game, seeing your parents in the stands as they root for you and your team.
We polled our Sports staff. You can read each of their full surveys online at statesman.com, but here are selected answers from Deputy Sports Editor Richard Tijerina, Assistant Sports Editor James Wangemann, columnists Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden, sports writers Rick Cantu, Danny Davis, Kevin Lyttle, John Maher, Randy Riggs and Mark Rosner, and agate clerk/ Scoreboard editor Cat Vasquez.
The BCS crystal trophy, Barry Bonds’syringe, and Bill Belichick’s hoodie.
Kirk Gibson’s home run ball,John Wooden’s book on the pyramid of success, and the puck used by the 1980 Miracle on Ice hockey team that beat the Russians.
The Sports Illustrated that was published after Tiger Woods won his first Masters, baseball cards and a Michael Jordan jersey — No. 23, not No. 45.
A DVD of the late Jim Valvano’s ESPYs speech in 1993, a highlights package of Jim Brown, Earl Campbell and Barry Sanders, and videos of every game played by the 1992 USA men’s Olympic basketball team.
A cable remote
Muhammad Ali control, the time-and-score TV box that Fox started, an anabolic steroid needle.
One ofJackie Robinson’s bats, an NFL Film, narrated by John Facenda, and a vial of EPO, with the warning“Do Not Use.”
Cassius Clay’s gold medal, Ted Williams’bat, Tom Landry’s hat.
A Barry Sanders highlight reel, a pair of Air Jordans, and some HGH.
A Super Bowl broadcast, complete with halftime show. (But we’ll skip the eight hours of pre-game coverage); a recording of“Gonna Fly Now,” the theme from Rocky. (Let’s run steps or chase down chickens. Right now.); Two baseball gloves and a ball. (“Hey, Dad? You wanna have a catch?”) “Bull Durham” “Hoosiers” “The Natural” “Remember the Titans” “Brian’s Song” “Rocky” “Field of Dreams” “Major League”
I have covered two Super Bowls, championship fights in Las Vegas, the NBA Finals, and the World Series, but nothing compares to the night Vince Young ran into the end zone to bring a national title home to Texas.
Nothing else comes close.
The setting — the Rose Bowl — can’t be topped and the game could have turned on a number of plays. The only tarnish is that, at the time, players such as Vince Young, Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and LenDale
civil. White looked like future AllPros.
It was the height of the Cold War, and four Uncle Sam-loving American boys were glued to the TV set with Mom and Dad, in our living room in Mentor, Ohio. This was way bigger than sports. So much tension, so much drama, the ultimate underdog story. And, finally, Mike Eruzione broke the 33 tie with the game-winner. “Do you believe in miracles? ... YESSS!”
It was a bittersweet game to watch, but what made it special was watching with my niece and nephew, who had just started getting into the series. It’s sad, but at least they witnessed one truly intense rivalry game before it ended.
The two that stick out in my memory both were Texas-Texas A&M games — the Longhorns’2827 win at Memorial Stadium in 1990, when I was mere feet away from Mark Berry’s goalline stop of Darren Lewis for what would’ve been a winning 2-point conversion pitch. And, of course, Texas’ 27-25 win at Kyle Field in 2011, when Justin Tucker’s lastsecond kick ended what was, for me, the greatest rivalry I’ve ever known.
“Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”
That’s pretty much what sports are all about. I didn’t get to witness it live, but it’s the one that speaks to me the most.
Go to Wimbledon; watch a World Series game in Yankee Stadium; go to the Kentucky Derby.
I’ve never been to the Olympics; I never went to old Boston Garden; I hoped to see Wimbledon.
Attend The Masters; cover the World Series; watch a home game for all 30 MLB teams (I’m only up to seven.)
Every writer should go to the Summer Olympics, but I didn’t get the chance; I wish I could have covered the U.S. Open (tennis); and it would have been cool to take a week to visit the halls of fame for pro football, basketball, and baseball.
Watch a championship-clinching victory by any of my madsack Cleveland pro sports teams; go to the Winter Olympics; and go to an Ohio State vs. Michigan football game. Simply, The Game.
Go to Wimbledon; see a World Cup soccer final; go to the French Open.
Watch a U.S. Open night-time quarterfinals match (It has to be a night match. Those are the best there.); go camping, catch a fish, clean it and cook it; go to my grandson’s Little League game. (I don’t have a grandson, but that’s a different bucket list.)
Go to a Super Bowl; watch a World Cup final, or a European Champions League final, in person; and go to the Kentucky Derby.
Learn how to be
Don’t make the outcome of a game or event so important that it affects your family. And never consider athletes role models unless you have a personal friendship with that person.
Remember that you’re a fan, not part of the show. Don’t be the drunken idiot who has to spend the night in the tank because he thought it would be cool to run across the outfield at Yankee Stadium. Don’t be the racist who posts bigoted messages on Facebook or Twitter because a black man’s goal eliminated your team from the NHL playoffs. Remember to show the same class you expect to see from the players you love to watch.
Don’t root for the Cleveland Browns. It’s not worth it.
Don’t get attached to any of the players. They’ll break your heart almost every time, make the selfish move and leave your team high and dry. Oh, and kids: Never, ever purchase one of their jerseys. You’ll need a replacement after a few years.
Don’t take it all so damn seriously. Chill. Keep sports fun, whether you’re playing or watching, and remember why you love it in the first place.
Try to look at things objectively. There’s nothing worse than a homer who refuses to believe their own team is bad.
And don’t excuse your favorite team’s shortcomings; point them out to your owner/athletic director so things can get better.
Vince Young’s end zone scamper capped off the 2006 BCS National Championship Game and sealed the game’s place on our list of the best games we’ve ever watched.
The U.S. Olympic hockey team’s 4-3 upset victory over the heavily favored Soviet team in the 1980 Winter Olympics appears on our lists as the best game we’ve ever watched and the best sports call of all time.
Attending Wimbledon, with or without Rafael Nadal, ranked on three writers’ bucket lists.