Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Baptized

Posted: August 17, 2008 in Sports
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I’ve said it before and I’ll say in again.

My generation — those in their 20s and 30s — have been fortunate enough to grow up in what I consider, the greatest era in sports.

The 80s gave us, Showtime, the 49ers, Phi Slamma Jamma among others.

The 90s gave us the Cowboys, Jordan and the Bills, Mike Tyson, the Yankees and Braves, Duke and Carl Lewis.

The beginning of the 21st century gave us Kobe and Shaq, the Patriots and of course, Tiger Woods.

The old heads will always swear the games were better in their day. Mostly due to fact that players simply played for the love of the game and weren’t caught up with hefty salaries, shoe contracts and endorsement deals.

Part of this argument I can see. But you can’t convince me if the means where the same then as they are now, players wouldn’t take the money. But I digress.

To have witnessed Jordan, Tiger, Barry Bonds and Barry Sanders in their prime is incomparable. We have arguably, with the inclusion of Wayne Gretzky and Pete Sampras, grown up watching the best athletes of all time in the major sports. It’s a gift and a curse in some respects. Now, every basketball player we watch, we compare to Jordan (i.e. LeBron, Kobe) and every tennis player (Nadal, Federer) is compared to Sampras and so on and so forth.

We have been spoiled to a point where it sometimes takes a lot from athletes to “wow” us. Mainly because we, like some of those older people I was talking about, think we’ve seen it all. We refuse to believe it can get better than the mid to late 90s and early 2000s.

However, with anything, every once in a while something or someone comes along that catches our attention and if fact gives us that fuzzy feeling as fans.

For me and others, the last few days, Michael Phelps has ignited that feeling within.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Olympics are going on. And, while the Redeem Team has been grabbing some of the headlines, the face of the Olympics has been Michael Phelps.

And on Saturday, Phelps reached a milestone that has stood for 36 years.  Team USA won the 4×100 medley relay, giving Phelps an unprecedented eight gold medals in one Olympics — surpassing the great Mark Spitz.

In the sports world, swimming is way down on the totem pole, but Phelps, from the Baltimore area, captured the attention and imagination of millions, including mine. And while we probably won’t care about competitive swimming for another four years when the Olympics arrive in London, even then, it will  be hard pressed to have the feeling we’ve had the last week witnessing history.

For those my age, younger and older we should appreciate what we were fortunate enough to witness, because it may never happen again.