|Image Credit: ringsofchampions.com|
Sports. We’ve played them. We watch them. They make us cry tears of joy, and tears of heart-breaking misery. The networks dedicate plenty of time broadcasting them. There are countless 24 hour-a-day cable stations dedicated to them. There are ballparks, arenas, stadiums, and race tracks all across America showcasing them. Bottom line…….we are a sports-crazed nation.
The image above represents my happiest moment as a sports fan. When I was a kid growing up, baseball was my favorite sport. Although I was born in 1975, I think my love of spectator sports started around ’83 or ’84, when I was 8 or 9 years old. It was in 1984 that I attached myself to the Cincinnati Reds. This was odd for a little boy living in South Bend, Indiana. 9 out of ten kids were Cubs fans, the other perhaps a White Sox fan. I attribute my early Reds-love to two factors: One, retired Reds legendary catcher Johnny Bench had a kids program that aired on Saturday mornings called “The Baseball Bunch.”
|Image Credit: pinterest.com|
It was a children’s show about baseball. I loved it! Johnny often had guest appearances from former Reds teammates who played with him during the Red’s heyday of “The Big Red Machine.” No player on those old Reds teams left a bigger impression on me than Pete Rose. By this time, Pete was playing for the Philadelphia Phillies. Although he was old by pro athlete standards, he was still a good player and still one of the bigger stars in the league. I remember telling my dad that if Pete Rose ever went back to the Reds, they would be “my team for life!” You know how little kids always speak in absolutes. Well in late 1984, that’s exactly what happened. And you know what? Although I’m not nearly the baseball fan I was as a kid, 33 years later the Reds are still my team. As bad as they’ve been for years now, I don’t know if I should thank Johnny and Pete, or curse them! haha.
Yet championships are timeless. I think that’s why we as fans get so obsessed over our teams’ pursuit of winning them. I’ll never forget that 1990 World Series. I was the only Reds fan I knew of at my school. Their accomplishment felt like mine. I didn’t have to share it with anyone. I was one proud 15 year old kid sporting my Reds Starter jacket around the halls of Riley High School that October!
Granted, there were other memorable winning moments for me during my life as a sports fan: My dad’s Chicago Bears winning the Super Bowl in 1985. My eventual Alma mater Indiana winning the men’s basketball championship in 1987. My hometown Fighting Irish winning the football National Championship in 1988. The Michael Jordan-led Bulls winning 6 titles in 8 years. My adopted NFL team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, going to 4 Super Bowls and winning 2 between 1995 and 2010. My wife’s Indianapolis Colts winning a Super Bowl in 2006. NHL hockey has actually been a great source of entertainment for me the past several years. I like the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins. I think they’ve combined to win 5 of the last 7 Stanley Cup Championships, or something like that.
So what’s been your big memorable sports moment? Allow me to guess……….
|Image Credit: greatgets.com|
Did I get that right? For both big-time die hards and even casual Wrigleyville visitors, I can’t begin to imagine how memorable their great championship run must have felt. Talk about long overdue for a long suffering fan base. It was very special. This Reds fan was cheering for your Cubs all the way. It wasn’t just great for Cubs fans, it was great for baseball. Hell, it was great for sports.
So what else? Your Alma mater or favorite school winning it all? Maybe your high school winning a championship? Perhaps a championship team you actually played on? Maybe it’s the accomplishments of an individual athlete? A U.S.A. Olympian winning Gold? A race car driver winning a big race? Don’t laugh. I still very much recall the late Dale Earnhardt finally conquering the Daytona 500 and the amazing reception he received from the fans and competing pit crews. Or Helio Castroneves climbing the fence to greet the fans after capturing his first Indianapolis 500 victory. These were great sports moments.
We commit our time, resources, and emotions to teams and athletes we choose to follow and cheer for. I think that’s why when they accomplish the ultimate goal of winning it all, we feel on some level like we’re a part of it. We know we’re not. Most of us never get the chance to meet our sports “heroes.” Yet it doesn’t stop us from consuming and loving our sports.
Hey, I think there are far worse ways to spend our time!
|Yup….that’s THE Reds Starter jacket Mom & Dad bought me for my 15th birthday. Greatest gift ever!!!! Unfortunately it doesn’t fit me anymore!|