When I was a little boy, my father would often take our family to the annual Homecoming football games at the former Byrd Stadium (now Maryland Stadium) in College Park. We even got to see a few basketball games at Cole Field House (now Jones-Hill House) on campus. My first connection to professional sports came in the fall of 1979, when I remember my father telling me about the Orioles and Pirates in the World Series.
I think our early sports loves in some way imprint on us and often result in a loyalty that borders on irrationality. Does it really make sense that when sports teams I like win, I am more cheerful, and when my favorite sports teams lose, I am grumpy? There is something about our tribal and community nature which leads us to seek identity through sports teams. I am embarrassed that my love of sports teams resulted in so many hours wasted cheering them on. I did so well in disabusing my kids of my love of sports teams that none of them have really enjoyed watching sports. My sons started to learn some of the rules of football when their Texas high school was in the state championship game in Cowboy Stadium.
In short, do not worship sports. However, I think it is OK to enjoy watching competition and cheering for groups that represent something we care about. The following are my favorite sports memories growing up:
- 1983 – My beloved Baltimore Orioles won the World Series
2. 1984 – My favorite NBA team, the Boston Celtics, won the Finals
3. 1985 – My high school, James M. Bennett, won the state championship in football
4. 1986 – My favorite NBA team, the Boston Celtics, won the Finals
5. 1986 – Our local college, Salisbury State College, made it to the Division III national championship in football (but lost to Augustana)
6. 1988 – The NFL team in Washington, D.C. won the Superbowl
7. 1989, 1991-1994 – My college, the Virginia Cavaliers, wins the national championship in soccer for 5 out of 6 years
8. 1990 – My college, the Virginia Cavaliers, went to #1 in the nation for football for 3 weeks while I was working in the Sports Information office
9. 1992 – The NFL team in Washington, D.C. won the Superbowl
10. 2002 – My childhood favorite team, the Maryland Terrapins, won the national championship in basketball
11. 2005 – The college where I worked for 7 years, Appalachian State, won the national championship
12. – Appalachian State won a second national championship
13. 2007 – Appalachian State (unranked and a division down) not only beat #5 Michigan, in what many believe is the greatest upset in college football history, won a third national championship in a row
14. 2012 – Baylor women’s basketball wins the national championship by going 40-0.
15. 2013 – Baylor football wins Big XII Championship
16. 2014 – Baylor football wins Big XII Championship
17. 2018 – The NHL team in my home state, the Washington Capitals, won the Stanley Cup
18. 2019 – The college I spent 9 years at, and earned 3 degrees from, the Virginia Cavaliers, won the national championship in basketball
19. 2019 – Baylor’s women’s basketball wins the national championship with 37-1 record
20. 2021 – The college I worked at for 11.5 years, the Baylor Bears, won the national championship in basketball