I’m In Love — With Sports, Don’t Come Between Us

The sports world devoured me when I was in the sixth grade. Despite watching Tony Siragusa knock Rich Gannon out of the 2001 AFC championship game and having a bitter taste in my mouth because the Oakland Raiders lost, I became engrossed with football. From that point on my love affair with sports only grew stronger as I began watching basketball, baseball and just about anything shown on television during the Olympics.

Since that point, I have spent countless hours in front of the television watching sports and anything related. During those hours, I received snide comments from my sisters, “isn’t there anything better to watch,” or judgmental remarks from roommates, “why do you like sports so much?”

To all those who cannot sit through a baseball, basketball or football game, or who question my passion and love for sports, this is why I watch.

Sports have more drama than any daytime soap opera and more divas than any VH1 reality show. The largest diva collection lies in the National Football League with all of its wide receivers. No one stirs more drama in a locker room than Terrell Owens. Who else would you expect to call out Jeff Garcia’s sexuality, Donovan McNabb’s will to win or cry in front of reporters because they were harassing Tony Romo? Owens is the biggest prima donna the NFL has and when he is not calling out his teammates, he calls out his coaches.

Sports are real. Nothing is scripted. Grown men cry because they genuinely don’t like to lose. Just ask Adam Morrison after the Gonzaga Bulldogs lost to the UCLA Bruins or the entire Miami Heat roster. Watching Lou Piniella cry and talk about walking away from the game he loves is heart breaking. If you don’t feel the least bit sad for him then go find your heart.

Unlike Hollywood movies, the good guys don’t always win. It took Peyton Manning five tries, including two postseason games, to beat his arch nemesis Bill Belichick. John Stockton and Karl Malone never won championships, while NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman won two titles with the Detroit Pistons and three with the Chicago Bulls.

Despite what the scoreboard says or the circumstances dictate, never count any team down and out. In December of 2004, the Houston Rockets trailed the San Antonio Spurs, 76-68 with 35 seconds left to play. Down eight points, a determined Tracy McGrady scored 13 points in the last 35 seconds to trump the Spurs, 81-80. In a 1993 NFL playoff game, the Buffalo Bills overcame a 32-point deficit and defeated the Houston Oilers 41-38 for one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.

In sports, athletes can go from hero to goat, or vice  versa, in a matter of seconds. After tying the game at 29 apiece with an extra point, John Kasay became the goat of Super Bowl XXXVIII when he kicked the ball out of bounds, giving Tom Brady and the Patriots a short field to setup the game-winning field goal.

There is nothing better than watching two teams or two players that dislike each other go head-to-head. In rivalry games, hatred becomes palpable. No one will ever forget Pedro Martinez shoving the Yankees’ Don Zimmer or Kevin McHale clothes-lining the Lakers’ Kurt Rambis.

Good or bad, sports immortalize people. Dwight Clark will forever be known for “The Catch.” Steve Bartman will be remembered as another reason why the curse of the Billy Goat will continue to plague the Chicago Cubs.

Sports define cities. Cleveland is the city of heartbreak. Cleveland sports teams come so close to glory but stand so far away from it. John Elway’s drive ended the Browns’ chances at a Super Bowl appearance. Edgar Rentería’s single popped the Indians’ hopes of bringing a World Series back to Cleveland. Michael Jordan’s shot over Craig Ehlo booted the Cavaliers out of the 1989 NBA Postseason. Not to mention LeBron James, who is probably public enemy number one in Cleveland.

Nowhere else can you get the best David-Goliath matchups. In 2008, the heavy underdog New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots. This will be remembered as one of the greatest upsets in sports history because the Patriots entered the game undefeated and lost the most important game of the season.

Sports are cathartic. When the 9/11 terrorist attack struck fear into the hearts of many Americans, sports were there for healing. The New Orleans Saints Super Bowl victory helped bring closure to a devastated city.

Sports bring people together. Go to a sports bar or a stadium and watch complete strangers bask in the glories of victory and sulk in the agonies of defeat.

Sports are not about being smarter, stronger or more talented than your opponent. It’s about wanting it more than person lined up against you; this adds to the unpredictability of the sports world.

Unlike other things in life, sports will never cheat on you, never complain and will always be there for you. This is why I watch.