In the world of sports the debate will go on forever about which of the four major’s is the best. Some will argue for Football, others for Hockey while the rest will throw their life savings into the mix for Baseball and Basketball. We at Inscriber asked writers for each of our divisions to weigh in on the matter at hand.
Joe Branham (Rams Showcase) will give his take on Football, Blake Cole (MLB) will argue for Baseball, Jake Watroba (NHL) will fight for Hockey and Mark T. Wilson (NBA) will say his peace for Basketball. Neither writer is wrong but what they will prove to you is that they all have a deep passion for the sport they love.
Maybe you grew up watching Pete Rose hit everything a pitcher threw his way or Wayne Gretzky score his way into the record books. If you grew up in a NFL household you were amazed at the grace of Walter Payton or couldn’t take your eyes off the TV as Magic Johnson no-looked his way to five championships. Either way you were intrigued by the skills of said players and either wanted to be like them or write about them.
We chose to write.
Let the debate begin…
(Why Football is #1)
I promised the other participants that I wouldn’t mention the NFL’s ratings in this. Because let’s be honest, that would make this way too easy. The reason the NFL is the best sport in America is because of what it does to the people who watch it. It might be more exciting to watch people watch football than watch the game itself. Have you ever watched someone watch baseball? It’s terrible. They just sit there and eat peanuts. I’m not going to say it’s not exciting to watch hockey fans though. It’s so peaceful while the play is on, followed by a burst of excitement when someone scores. The NFL is different in this regard. The excitement level is consistently high throughout the entire game.
What’s not to love about football? It has everything. It has some of the best athletes in the world doing amazing things. Going to an NFL game is an experience that every American should participate in at least once in their life. I remember seeing the (then) St. Louis Rams play the Denver Broncos in 2010. The game came down to the final drive. During this moment, the entire crowd is on their feet and screaming at the top of their lungs. This was the most exciting thing I’ve ever experienced being a sports fan. It doesn’t hurt that the Rams won the game.
Every aspect of the NFL draws a level of excitement that is not seen in any other form of entertainment in America. Everything down to the NFL Draft draws crowds that aren’t normal for sports. Training camps draw fans out of their caves to see who the next big star on their favorite team will be. Preseason games usually begin with crowd numbers comparable to regular season games. In 2012 I witnessed this first hand when the St. Louis Rams played the Denver Broncos again in Denver. This was the first home game for the Broncos since their heartbreaking loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs the year before. For a preseason game to be nearly sold out is great to see for any fan of any team.
If you don’t believe me that the NFL is easily the most popular sport in America, just go to your local sports store any time of the year. NFL gear still covers the walls. Drive around your city and see how many people have an NFL team logo on the back of their car.
The NFL has taken over as the favorite sport in America and will continue to hold that title. That is unless slam ball gets really popular out of nowhere.
(Why Baseball is #1)
MLB (Should Be) America’s Favorite Pastime
I’ve been asked to present a case as to why baseball, Major League Baseball to be specific, beats out all the other sports as America’s favorite. Well, now, it doesn’t. Just 31 words into my case, and I seem to have allowed the NFL or the NBA to win (certainly not the NHL; they could never be No. 1).
Well sports fans, I’m going to tell you why MLB should be America’s favorite. My NFL counterparts are most likely going to cite TV ratings, ticket sales or even year-over-year growth in overall popularity, as to why football beats baseball. How do I counter that? Yes, a regular season football game beat out a World Series game in TV ratings. Yes, football is growing more and more popular as the years pass. So what edge does baseball have?
Tradition. Family. Togetherness.
Have you ever been to a NFL game? How much did the outing cost you? Now, have you been to a MLB game? What did that cost? With more games per year, and a lower cost to attend, Major League Baseball offers a unique experience. With baseball, you and your family can enjoy a day together, without having to miss a car payment to do so. Even if you prefer to enjoy the games at home, with baseball you are given so many more opportunities to gather around, cheer on your team, and spend time with your loved ones doing so.
The game of baseball expands far beyond the majors. There are numerous minor league teams in many areas. These MiLB clubs offer the same experience as a MLB game, and at an even easier convenience! Let’s take, for instance, the Frisco Rough Riders. They are the Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. In a suburb of Arlington, home of the Rangers, this club provides just as much of an enjoyable outing as a Rangers game. These kinds of teams are everywhere! If you can’t make a MLB game, or are looking for a smaller-scale experience, checkout your local MiLB team.
The options for baseball are numerous. The opportunities to gather around the game, that has been a stress reliever for this great country for many decades, are plentiful. Baseball offers a sense of tradition. Going to the games, watching the games at home, spending time with your family and making memories that will last a lifetime. These are things that many people appreciate. These are things that many of us often don’t get around to doing.
No, baseball can’t compete with the NFL in ratings or popularity at this point in time. But it could. Baseball could easily become what it used to be. In fact, instead of saying why baseball is the best, I am here to ask sports fans to make it the best. Instead of debating the financials, ratings, or whatever else, let’s take action.
Let’s get out there, and restore baseball to its rightful place in America: No.1!
(Why Hockey is #1)
Hockey, the Canadian pastime. It’s a sport that many Americans choose to ignore for various reasons, one being the US isn’t the best in the world at it. Many never grew up playing, mostly due to the fact that a vast chunk of the US never experienced a winter where ponds, lakes and rivers freezes over; the crucible of hockey.
Never playing the game or growing up in an area where the game is heavily played and celebrated, like I did growing up in Minnesota – the State of Hockey, makes it harder to relate to. However, just because the US isn’t the best at the sport or it wasn’t the game of choice in the area you grew up in doesn’t mean it isn’t great.
First word to come to mind when I think of hockey: toughness. No other sport compares to it. There isn’t a game in the world where players willingly get in the way of a frozen piece of rubber that’s slicing through the air at 90-100 MPH. There isn’t a game in the world where it’s players get their front teeth knocked out during a shift and they’re back out on the ice minutes later. Case-and-point. LeBron James has to be carried off the court because he suffered a leg cramp in Game 2 of the 2014 NBA Finals. Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, oh, he only played with a broken rib, some torn cartilage, a separated shoulder and a punctured lung in Game 6 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, where the Bruins faced being eliminated by the Vancouver Canucks (By the way, they won the series in seven). Toughness. It’s something every hockey player is born with.
While hockey players may not be the most athletic in the world of sports, they may however be the most skilled. Consider this, hockey is a fast-paced game littered with quick reactions. Players only have fractions of a second to decide whether or not they’re going to shoot or pass the puck. If they’re going to shoot, which part of the net are they aiming for? Are they going to wind-up for a powerful slap shot or try to pick a corner of the net with a wrist shot? Now imagine having to make all these decisions while standing on two very sharp pieces of metal, flying across a sheet of ice going 20+ MPH. That’s skill.
Lastly, intensity. Not sure another sport can reach hockey’s intensity level. An opposing player wants to try and run your star player over? You better believe your big bruising enforcer will be out on the ice the next shift policing the game. Championship on the line? You’ll see smaller guys taking huge hits to make a play. You won’t find a game where its’ players put in more effort and put their bodies in harms way more for a chance to hoist a trophy like Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Toughness, skill, intensity. Three of the few, but many reasons why the game of hockey is the greatest sport on Earth.
(Why Basketball is #1)
What is there not to love about basketball? Not the NBA but the sport in general. The one you grew up playing with a milk crate in the backyard, or the one you nailed to a street pole on your block because the older kids had the courts in the playground on lock.
Remember how it stared with a tennis ball, then moved up to a balloon basketball (super bouncy), then the real deal? You honed you skills on that crate until you were ready to play with the guys. After the game you would head home grab the tape out the VCR and study the game you just recorded, ready to hit the courts tomorrow to emulate the moves that are now branded into your memory.
Those were the times.
But everything has changed now. Money has come into play and the game we loved growing up is no longer the same– it’s a business now. How big of a business? When players are now signing shoe contracts as large as their NBA contracts, you know times have changed.
But that brings us back to the original question. What makes basketball the best sport in the world?
My colleagues may throw tickets, merchandise or TV ratings into the fold and while those figures may help their cause, there is nothing like the pure love of the game with no money, no fans, no endorsements, just you and nine other players on the court. None of that Rec League ball, I’m talking straight concrete, bent rims, no nets, faded, splinted backboards and a steel cage marking the out-of-bounds line. This is basketball that I know.
Not enough for a full court game? No problem 3-on-3, or 2-on-2 will work. But wait– someone’s mom is calling them from the 15th floor for dinner, now we are down to 5 players. Not a problem either. Time for everyone to go to the line for a game of Ruff House (21).
As I got older I have enjoyed watching my sons play the game. Yes I am that father that keeps score when we are not supposed to at their age, as they like to teach that every kid is a winner. Yes they are and for that reason alone I am keeping score sir ( I am the dad that gets kicked out of Church Leagues).
Basketball runs deep through my veins. I have played it since I could walk, I have played in the Spectrum in Philadelphia (same floor as Julius Erving and Charles Barkley), I grew up with NBA and NCAA Division 1 Champions, I went to a High School (Simon Gratz) that was nationally ranked #1 in the country. I live this game, I know this game, and I love this game.
I don’t know what it’s like to love another sport and to be honest I don’t want to know.