Thanksgiving comes early this year, but that’s not a bad thing. It remains my favorite holiday of the year. It’s an American holiday and everybody celebrates it. We also indulge in some of my favorite things: food, family and football. With that combination, what could be bad?
With Turkey Day in mind, here is a list of some of the things I’m thankful for in the world of sports:
I am thankful for the fact that this is the final year of the BCS. As listeners on my show know, I have always believed there is no “C” in BCS. While I welcome a four-team playoff in the next year, I would like to see an eight team tournament and ultimately I think we will. Anybody who follows college football knows it’s all about the money. Once the powers that be in college football see how much money and attention a playoff generates, they will quickly expand it from four teams to six or eight.
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I am thankful for the rivalries that college football has. They are not quite like rivalries in other sports and they often go back more than 100 years. Watching Michigan-Ohio State, Alabama-Auburn, USC-UCLA, Texas-Oklahoma or Army-Navy, just to name a few, just adds to the intensity and uniqueness of college football.
I am also thankful for halftime and pre-game college football entertainment. When I go to games in Ann Arbor and hear the P.A. announcer say, “Band, take the field!” I know it’s time for some football. Bands, cheerleaders, tailgating and small traditions that each school has just adds to the magic that is college football and you just don’t see that kind of tradition anywhere else in sports.
I am thankful for the NFL, the highest level of football played in the world. Having just one game per week and 16 games per season makes every game important and only adds to the drama. Despite the many issues surrounding the league right now, there is still no better experience in sports than an NFL Sunday, especially while watching NFL Sunday Ticket or at a sports bar where all games are available at the turn of your head.
I am thankful for the high level of quarterback play we are now seeing in the NFL. Watching Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Eli Manning and Aaron Rodgers is just magical. Young guns like RGIII and Andrew Luck provide the next generation. When an offense is firing on all cylinders, it’s something to behold.
I am thankful for the skills we see on display in the NBA. Watching LeBron (love him or hate him), Kobe and Kevin Durant shine is just plain fun. But I am also thankful for NBA clubs who still realize that it is a team game and playing fierce defense and finding the open man still win basketball games in crunch time.
I am thankful that the NHL lockout cannot last forever (can it?). A former minor league GM I interviewed once told me hockey is a great game, but it’s a horrible business. Unfortunately, he is right. Fans are tired of the greed of the owners and the stubbornness of both sides in this negotiation. We don’t want to think about the business of sport, we want to watch sports. Hopefully, the NHL takes to the ice again soon.
I love the tradition of baseball. A hot sunny summer’s day, a hot dog, a beer or a soda, friends and family at the ballpark, nothing beats it. Add the sound of Vin Scully or your favorite broadcaster on the radio and there’s a perfect day. The sounds and smells of baseball are so classically American that even Astroturf and the DH can’t spoil it.
I am also thankful for the chance to do this show every day and for the audience that makes it possible. I hope my love of sports can be heard in my work and that you enjoy listening to the show as much as I enjoy doing it every day.
I want to wish all of my readers and listeners a Happy Thanksgiving and a great kickoff to the holiday season.