Let me preface things by saying that I am the KING of sports fan… wait, I don’t sit around watching any and all sports – so maybe I am just a MONSTER sports fan. Okay, I don’t even watch all the televised games of my favorite team – so maybe I am just a HUGE sports fan. Okay, so I can’t even remember the last time I paid to go see a pro sports team play – so maybe I am just a BIG sports fan.
I do however remain steadfastly loyal to my ‘favorite’ teams and nothing irks me more than the bandwagon jumpers. You know the ones – watch who trades in their Pats gear for Eagles if they take the SuperBowl – or who is wearing all the Pistons gear that you could have sworn was a Lakers fan just a couple seasons ago.
The first time I chose a favorite team was in elementary school. The sport was football. I was captivated by the larger-than-life superheroes wearing silver and blue. How could you grow up in south Texas (Victoria) and not root for “America’s Team?” With players like Harvey Martin, Randy White, Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett, it goes on and on… I was hooked. They were the “good guys” and they fought the good fight. They were the Cowboys fending off the evil Indians (Redskins.) It took two seasons for my new team to get to a SuperBowl and they lost it to the Steelers… it didn’t matter because two years after that we beat Denver.
Next up came basketball. I used to hate watching basketball – but sometime around junior high, I started to play the game myself. I was finally getting tall enough to reach the hoop with my shots. I was a small, quick, smart player so I naturally identified better with the guards. The best guard (in my opinion) to EVER play the game just happen to be a rookie for the Los Angeles Lakers – Magic Johnson. There wasn’t a playground game that went by without my attempting and, more and more frequently, completing a no-look pass. The Laker’s hadn’t won a championship in 9 years… but they won it by the end of that year. I was hooked.
I resisted baseball the longest. I just couldn’t see the point of watching it on TV… to me it seemed boring. I made the mistake of watching an old movie that changed everything. Pride of the Yankees… not only opened my eyes to a whole world of amazing baseball history, but gave me my #1 sports hero of all time – Lou Gehrig.
The New York Yankees at the time were in the middle of their WORST decade ever… in fact, the 80’s was the first decade in their history that they didn’t win a world series. I started following baseball slowly and eventually found “my guy” on the current squad… Donnie Baseball – Don Mattingly. I read everything I could find about Yankee history and steadfastly stuck to the pinstripes despite a streak of 19 seasons without a title.
At first glance, it may look like I am a bandwagoner – I mean, geez… I have chosen some of the top teams in each of their sports. Sure, they all have great history, but each was chosen however, before any recent success. Also, most importantly, each has remained as my top team despite large periods of terrible results. In addition to the 19 year wait for the Yanks, I had a 14 year drought between Cowboys’ SuperBowl wins, and a 12 year absence for the Lake-show. During all that losing… I never wore a Chicago Bulls jersey, a 49ers cap or waived a banner for any other baseball team.
So what is the point? The point is – I am ready to finally commit to a college team. I attended a Division II college (Stephen F. Austin) and have never really chosen a Division I team to follow. I would root for Rice because I view them as the brainy underdogs – I have an affinity for BYU – I have always liked the history surrounding Bear Bryant and Alabama… and the list goes on. I just couldn’t pick one. I thought about what I like about my pro favorites and it really isn’t the spoiled players (I absolutely DETEST Kobe Bryant and blame him for destroying a franchise that should have equalled Magic’s five championships in a ten year period.) What I do like is the history and tradition.
I decided that the University of Texas Longhorns have as much history and tradition as any college and that carries over into every sport. That, combined with my recent forays to the city of Austin have cemented my selection as UT… my now-permanent favorite college athletics program!!