What are you thankful for in sports this year? On Thanksgiving some years ago, on a podcast long since retired, my co-host Nick Tarnowski and I broke our traditional format talking about the minutiae of sports to step back and ask this question to our awesomely talented friends in the industry. At the time, we were doing that daily show for the love of it, and we were truly thankful for the audience we had grown.
This year again, albeit in text only, we have compiled a cornucopia of thanks from those who help bring sports into our living rooms, computers and mobile devices.
Looking back, I am still thankful for that original audience, and this audience reading my words not just today, but every day on one of the most viewed sports sites in the world. This is a pretty cool gig I've gotten myself into, and I'm thankful for those who brought me on board nearly 18 months ago. More than that, I'm thankful for the audience that reads and watches my work on this site, calls me out when I'm wrong and defends me when I'm right. I sincerely hope there has been more defending this year than calling out.
As for the greater world of sports, I'm thankful for the United States women's national soccer team winning another gold medal, proving that playing to the final whistle always pays off. I'm thankful we were able to watch the matches on live TV—NBC thankyouverymuch—giving me the opportunity to share the experience with my five-year old soccer-playing daughter who loves Carli Lloyd more than she loves me.
I'm thankful that Usain Bolt exists. I'm thankful that LeBron James won an NBA title so we don’t have to hear that tired argument about him not being clutch ever again. I'm thankful that Tim Tebow has become such a non-factor in the NFL this season we only have to hear about him every other minute, not every other second.
I'm thankful for Lance Armstrong, who gave us hours upon hours of material by simply refusing to acknowledge the truth, or at least whatever version of the truth we are being led to believe now. I'm also happy that we, in sports, have the perspective to make mountains out of molehills—how Armstrong being banned from his sport and his closet full of yellow jerseys getting raided can get nearly as much national news coverage as the Presidential election.
I'm thankful that sports can manage to ruin our world and give us perspective on life, sometimes in the very same moment.
Last, I'm thankful for the wonderful colleagues and friends I've collected in this industry over the years. Most fans are normal people with non-sports jobs who get off work, plop down on the couch and relax while watching the game. For those of us who work in sports, your post-work release is our day-to-day grind. Working in sports isn't easy. Many of us are paid to be experts while covering events those fans plopped on the couch know more about than we do. The hardest thing in sports is trying to convince people who just watched the same game as you that your opinion is not only right, it's something they hadn't thought of until you said it.
There isn't one of us who would like to trade our seat for that spot on the couch.
That's what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving. I am honored to share what some of those colleagues and friends are thankful for as well. (The following links will send you to each person's respective Twitter feed.)
Bob Ley, ESPN:
I'm thankful for La Furia Roja, the Spanish national football side, who invited us to sit at the table and watch history and perfection unfold. So one nation now concurrently holds the World Cup and the last two European Championships, and they've done it with subtlety, style, a sense of the moment—and a total absence of egomaniacal preening. That's a lesson bigger than sport.
Maggie Hendricks, Yahoo! Sports:
I'm thankful for the Olympics. I'm thankful for gymnasts who fight gravity, runners who fight physics, swimmers who fight their own lungs, and athletes of every stripe who fight their own limits. I'm thankful that athletes who toil anonymously for most their lives get a spotlight every four years, and I'm so, so grateful that I get to cover them.
David Aldridge, NBA and Turner:
I'm thankful for my wife, who has gone along with this ridiculous life of mine for far too long. I'm thankful for every pilot, flight attendant and mechanic who gets me where I need to go. I'm thankful for working at a company that has been incredibly good to me, and thankful my job entails seeing something new almost every night after 25 years. I am also thankful I don't have to cover politicians, because if I did, I'd probably gouge my eyes out with a melon baller after a week.
Paul Pabst, The Dan Patrick Show:
I'm thankful for the 1-AA football playoffs. I know it's called FCS, but it's 1-AA to me. Give me an early December Appalachian State-Montana matchup in the snow that means more than any concocted bowl game where the players get bags full of free gear, but the game is meaningless. Go to the 2:45 mark and check out the weather in Missoula a few years ago. That's 1-AA football.
Support and watch the 1-AA playoffs. Here's a bracket for you.
Rob Stone, Fox Soccer:
My list reads like a kid handing his Christmas gift wishes to the mall Santa. I'm thankful for Marcus Vick and his tweets. Andrew Bynum's hair and bowling fetish. BCS standings that rotate weekly. Beckham's impact on MLS. Hair gel that holds up for Ronaldo. Tampa Bay Rays. Dean Smith's legacy. Paulina Gretzky's camera and the ensuing cringing of Dad, Wayne. The fact sports gives us things to argue, ponder, cheer and bond over 365 days a year.
Danger Guerrero, Uproxx:
I am thankful for dunks.
Jack Kogod, aka Unsilent Majority, KSK:
All of my teams are a always disappointing me, but this year I am thankful because no matter what happens, Chelsea are still champions of Europe.
Trey Wingo, ESPN:
I'm thankful that the nation's obsession with the NFL mirrors my own. It's nice to know that something you really cared about as a 10-year-old can sustain you throughout your adult life. Plus you get to work with someone named "Stink." #winning
Taylor Twellman, ESPN:
Not a day goes by that I don't have to deal with some symptom of post-concussion syndrome yet every day I am thankful for the strength to deal with these issues and also realize it could be worse than it is. Thinktaylor.org will make a difference and I'm thankful it's me that has to help.
Will Brinson CBS Sports:
I'm thankful for dirty/putrid ACC football. My (likely) 7-5 Wolfpack team should end up with a best-case Sun Bowl berth. Instead, the Pack could go to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl if there are only five bowl-eligible teams.
When ACC commish and Ninja-at-Large John Swofford sneaks FSU and Clemson into BCS bowls, the nugget-loving folks at Chick-Fil-A could be faced with picking between 6-7 GT, 6-6 Duke or 7-5 NC State, assuming the Wolfpack can beat lowly Boston College.
Josh Zerkle, Bleacher Report:
What I'm thankful for in sports: Adam Schefter, the CFL, my golf buddy Kerry, that tightrope-bouncing guy in last year's Super Bowl, trade deadlines in fantasy football, Bleacher Report, disc golf, R.A. Dickey, Aaron Rodgers, half-cocked athlete tweets and the Stanley Cup.
Did I mention Adam Schefter?
Will Tidey, Bleacher Report:
I'm thankful for Andrea Pirlo—for his art with a football, the passes only he sees and the best beard in sports. I'd also like to thank Zlatan for being Zlatan and Balotelli for being ridiculous.
Aaron Nagler, Bleacher Report:
I'm thankful the Knicks are watchable again. I'm thankful the Bears still suck. Most of all, I'm thankful that my wife and children are as forgiving as they are when it comes to my obsession with the NFL.
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report:
It's easy to say, and even a bit corny, but I'm very thankful to have a job where I'm able to write and share my opinions about football. This is the job I've always wanted, and I'm incredibly fortunate to work at a fantastic place where I'm able to do just that. I'm living out my dream job at Bleacher Report. I'm thankful for my amazing co-workers (present company included) and the support staff that's been built up around us. From the copy editors all the way to the CEO, I'm truly blessed to work at Bleacher Report.
In the realm of sports this year, I feel I have very little to be thankful for as a Philadelphia fan. I'm shocked that the teams here have not driven me out of town. Oh wait, I did leave town, but it wasn't the fault of our beloved franchises. Having moved to a new city, I am as thankful as ever for my rooting interests.
Whether it's a honk from a passing car on Sundays as I walk around wearing my Eagles shirt or nod when wearing my old school, fat P Phillies cap, the bond of fandom has made me feel at home in a strange place. I have sat down at numerous bars and engaged in long conversations just because of the TV I'm gazing at intently.
Strangers would rarely give a guy in a red sweater the time of day, but turn that into a red Phillies sweatshirt and you have an instant conversation starter. That one article of clothing provides a touchstone and a link that shows how the bond between sports fans is timeless and is something I have been truly thankful for this year.
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