Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

My First Word Was "Ball" (And Have Not Stopped Talking About Balls Since)


I have been a huge sports fan since even before I can remember. The first words out of my mouth was “ball.” I don’t remember saying it, yet my mother is constantly reminding me. Practically every picture of me as a kid is of me kicking/thorwing/dunking a ball. I loved sports, and in return, sports have been good to me.

The Miami Dolphins have been the most steady NFL franchises since their birth in ’66. In my life, they were always good, but never great, but that was good enough for me. There was Shula, there was Marino, and there was always hope.

The Miami Heat came to town in 1988. I was immediately hooked. That’s what happens when your mom’s boss has season tickets, yet doesn’t really like basketball. Add Alonzo Mourning, Pat Riley, and you have a team good enough to compete with Michael Jordan in the Eastern Conference Finals. I consider 1998 a win. One Dwyane Wade later, and boom, Championship.

The Florida Panthers wasted little time going from expansion team to Finals runner up. That was truly the most fun I have had during any playoff run, as I was young enough to lose myself in it completely.

The Florida Marlins also jumped straight from expansion team to winners, taking the 1997 World Series in only their fourth year. They won again in 2003, making in two in 10 years. A far cry from the curse of The Bambino, and other such dysfunction.

The Miami Hurricanes, Florida State Seminoles, And Florida Gators, all of whom I have followed at some point in my life, are three dynasties that have controlled the landscape of college and professional football for the better part of three decades. 10  National Titles in 26 years made watching college football in Florida exciting year-in and year-out.

My college years were exciting at UF. Besides the 2 Football Titles, The Gator Basketball team won back-to-back titles. I was living in Title Town.

All told, I have seen 15 championships wins, plus 8 championship game runner-up performances. That’s the whole point, right? Championships.

That’s what I thought.

But recently, during the current run that the Gators Football team is on, I have realized that being the best is not what it is all about. As we speak, Coach Urban Meyer is leading the Gators on an unprecedented run, winning 2 out of the last 3 BCS Championships, and 19 consecutive games. But why is this season not enjoyable? The Gators are the best and everyone expects them to be the best. As expectations mount, appreciation for what they have done dwindles. Any other team would be chomping at the bit to get where the Gators are. Yet, all you hear from ESPN is how they have not produced explosive scores, and instead of cheers from the stands, you hear complaints about the playcalling. Simply winning is no longer good enough. They want perfection. They want title after title. But to me, the best part was getting here.

Do you remember 2006? Do you remember how much it hurt when Auburn beat the Gators on some close/questionable calls in October? Do you remember how loud the Swamp got when Jarvis Moss blocked that field goal to stave off Spurrier’s Gamecocks in November? Do you remember having your friends over for Bowl Selection Sunday in December, fingers crossed to see if the Gators would get a crack at the Buckeyes in January? Do you remember the deflating feeling of watching Ted Ginn back the opening kick-off? Do you remember the subsequent rush of watching the underdog Florida Gators smack around, befuddle, and completely dominate the Heisman Trophy winner and the #1 team in the country?

I remember, and it was awesome. It made me want to jump around on University Avenue like a crazy person. Not because you are obligated to do so when you win, but because you feel great and you can’t keep it inside. You felt like you were part of something great. Maybe the voice you lost along with 90,833 of your closest friends made the difference. Maybe that group of 85 players was just the perfect mix of talent and heart to get the job done. Maybe it was both. Instead of demanding another championship, hope that you are lucky to see another, and appreciate that it is still a possibility.

The time has come to appreciate the moment you are living in. Just ask any Cubs fan, this feeling is rare, and championships can be few and far between.