Best of the Best: Part V – Sports, Where Would We Be Without You?

I signed on to this website today to begin my usual rant on what’s wrong in the world of sports when I watched the video Hosea posted yesterday.

Then it occurred to me. Could you imagine a world without sports?

It seems trivial and silly, but honestly, could you imagine a world without sports? God forbid the day should actually come when sports no longer exists.

When I watched this video, I began to think about how sports defines who we are as people. Sure, most of us were not gifted with the same skill set that pro athletes are, but I thought of how sports affects our lives.

Remembering 9/11

After the attacks of 9/11, it was baseball that took America on its shoulders and provided an uplifting emotion, passion and simplicity back into life. We all saw the images on television of players, coaches and spectators that were seen crying in those first few days when baseball came back following the attacks and we could understand that in the face of a life-altering event, this game of baseball was there to offer a release.

Every fan of the game could connect with every player in the game because of the tragedy of 9/11, but we could all connect with the emotion and the raw passion of a home-run, a great play in the outfield or a bottom-of-the-ninth strikeout to save a victory when the game was close and so much was at stake. With every fist pump, with every controversial call and with every hot-dog consumed in the crowd, the game of baseball lifted people from this tragedy and brought North America back.

If sports, and in this case, baseball didn’t exist, could the people of North America have found anymore common ground other than grief to rally from? Probably not.

Take the Boston Red Sox’s two World Series victories in the last four years. People have been quoted as saying that they wish their family members could have lived to see the Red Sox win a championship, something that seemed impossible until 2004 when ‘The Curse of the Bambino’ was officially lifted.

Canada celebrate hockey

For most Canadians, we take hockey as our national sport. After all, this country has produced majority of the NHL players in the game, both past and present, and we pride ourselves on being the best. Our pride as a hockey nation is always at stake when we play in international competitions.

When Team Canada won at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, city streets were aligned with the Canadian colours and young and old and people of all different ethnic backgrounds and cultures were seen celebrating together because they were all brought together by Canada being the best at what it is the best at.

Chants of “Go Canada Go” echoed everywhere and it was an inspiring sight to see just how this game and all the emotion that comes from it just sweeps people up. When Canada wins, or the Canucks or even the Leafs, people that have that team or country in common come together to celebrate. If hockey didn’t exist, what would Canada be? What would Canada be without the rivalry of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens? A cold, snow-covered land with barely any common ground.

Then we have the athletes themselves. Doesn’t matter what level of sport, be it a pro athlete, a junior hockey player, a peewee football player, it doesn’t matter.

Sports is a way of life that has so much passion, no matter what the sport. We feed off the emotions, the talent, the desire to win and the attitude.

Tiger Woods Fans

Tiger Woods is a great example of this. The man is the best athlete in the world and every tournament he goes to, thousands and thousands of fans will follow and will get just as excited as he does when he makes a big shot on his way to victory at a major championship. We will sigh and curse and get frustrated just like he does when he fails.

As humans, we are emotional, but when we see people we idolize, we feel their emotions and sports is great for that. When someone gives a fist pump or hangs their head in defeat, thousands more of us do so as well.

We cherish these athletes and we marvel at the trophies, medals and awards because they represent being the masters of courage, passion, talent, years of failure and dedication to one day shed that failure.

After all the years of failure, defeat, tragedy, blood, sweat, tears and every other form of adversity, we could hold that belt, that trophy or that medal high above our heads and have that moment of extreme jubilation, that moment in time that we cannot honestly describe how good it feels to be the best because we cannot comprehend that feeling yet. The true feeling of a champion.

Whether we compete in the sport or we watch it or analyze it, we all want that one moment where we can say we overcame every obstacle to be the best. That is what sports does.

It has that power, like love, to envoke all these emotions from the good to the bad because we all live for that moment of greatness.

It doesn’t matter what sport or what athlete it is. From Babe Ruth to Muhammad Ali to Mario Andretti to Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard to Tiger Woods to Hayley Wickenheiser, the list can go on and on, it is these people and the world of sport that bring us together from all walks of life for those moments of greatness.

And that is what sports is all about.

I would hate to live in a world without sports.

Greatest Sports Moments of All Time

Brought to you by ESPN, this is one of my favourite clips as it compiles some of sport’s greatest moments.

There are sections with greatest calls from broadcastors, to flashes of greatest coaches, to greatest sports pictures, it’s a complete collection. It also plays to the tune of Dream On by Aerosmith.

It’s a must watch for sports fans. See how many plays and incidents you recognize.

Enjoy. 

Tiger Prefers Gatorade Over Powerade

Tiger WoodsApparently Tiger Woods has spent the previous $710-million he’s made over his pro career from endorsements alone (thank you Nike), because he just signed a new $100-million deal with Gatorade, which will bring into circulation its second athlete driven flavour, Gatorade Tiger.

It’s going to be interesting in how they market this, as Gatorade didn’t really do much as to advertising Sidney Crosby’s “Formula 87,” which I don’t think was even sold south of the border.

The best way to market this is probably to take the golf route on it, and sell it as a way to help golfers excel in the heat.

Signing Tiger was a great decision by Gatorade, though, as he is up there as one of the most recognized athletes in the world, and playing golf, where there is little to no risk of career ending injuries, he’ll be on the scene for at least another 20 years.

Look what Tiger did for Nike. In the world of golf, nobody would of ever thought of buying a set of Nike irons before Tiger came along. Now it’s one of the most popular brands in the sport.

Gatorade Tiger is going to be successful right off the bat. Everyone will want to try it, but the only thing that will keep people buying it is if it actually tastes good.

There’s no chance anyone would drink a disgusting drink just because they’re favourite golfer is on the label.

All this really is, is a way to introduce a new flavour of Gatorade, and putting Tiger beside it is the best possible way to get people to buy it.

Presidents Cup Should Open Eyes of PGA to Canada

Mike WeirThis weekend’s Presidents Cup in Montreal was a huge success for two very simple reasons:

Mike Weir defeated the best golfer on the planet in Tiger Woods on his home soil in nail-biting, intense fashion and Canada showed that we are more than capable of putting on a successful PGA event.

Seeing as how the rest of the competition was not as intriguing as Weir vs Woods, we won’t bother to go over the fact that U.S. obliterated the International team 19.5 to 14.5 over the weekend, as the States won their second Presidents Cup in as many tries.

But now for Woods and Weir. A match only made possible by the golf gods, the fact that this tournament was in Canada and it was a Canadian boy versus the best golfer, who ever played the sport. Many predicted this match would happen and many predicted Weir would be fed his lunch.

Well, he wasn’t. Weir showed that he still has something left in the tank after two years of disappointment in the wake of a swing adjustment that is just now starting to show a pay off. The most infamous of Canadian golfers showed he can still compete against the best of the best, showing resolve in the face of adversity as the eye of the Tiger began to chip away at Weir.

He led the match by three after the front nine but quickly began to fall apart, while the world’s best golfer Tiger Woods began to go on that role, which we have seen time and time again. It looked like Weir was all but done when he chipped out of a water hazard on 15, only to concede the hole after his shot skew the green and landed in the thick rough. But Weir stuck around. After Tiger missed a birdie putt to eliminate Weir on the 17th hole, the native of Bright’s Grove, Ontario came up clutch with a 12-foot birdie putt to even things up going into the final hole.

Tiger WoodsWith the Presidents Cup having already been decided, the big victory came on 18 when the home grown kid made Tiger tap out after Woods missed a chip shot to save par and square the match. He missed, only by inches, and conceded to Weir, who was met by thunderous applause at just about every turn he took at Royal Montreal all weekend.

All that can be said for Weir is that it was a courageous effort. He battled and battled, fell back into a corner against a surging Tiger and battled some more until he was victorious. As for Tiger, give him credit too. He battled tooth and nail all day too. Sure he didn’t have his best stuff, but he still fought and together, him and Weir put on an electrifying show for the thousands upon thousands of golf fans in the gallery and those watching at home.

That brings us to the next segment of this blog. Should the Canadian Open be re-scheduled and turned into a major tournament? Short answer: Yes. This weekend’s galleries were incredible. They were loud and enthusiastic all weekend long and the PGA should look at this one example and definitely consider changing how they approach the Canadian Open.

Canadian fans are knowledgeable about the game of golf. We appreciate every aspect of the sport from the greats of today like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh to the legends and forefathers of the sport like Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Arnold Palmer.

But after watching the reactions and impressions of the crowd, how can the PGA not look at this weekend and think that perhaps making the Canadian Open a major would bring in more money and more fan support north of the border? It would be dumb if they didn’t at least consider the idea.

But for the time being, Canada, let us soak this one in. Mike Weir had a day to remember for the ages and the city of Montreal and the whole country got to witness world class golf. At the end of the day, all parties involved in this weekend’s Presidents Cup have to be feeling pretty good about the game of golf and where it is going.

Best of the Best: Part I – Top of Their Field

The world of sports has seen a lot of changes over the last hundred years or so. Sports like football, hockey, baseball and golf have evolved in just about every aspect of their sports as you can possibly think of, and most of that evolution has become more apparent in the last seven years.

Not only has sports technology become more sophisticated, but the athletes themselves have taken their respective sports to a whole other level and have raised the bar for the dynamics of sports world-wide.

So let us examine two of the best athletes in the world:

Tiger Woods

Tiger WoodsPurely the best athlete on the face of the earth. The stereotype of pro golfers has changed since Woods came onto the scene towards the late 90’s. In 2000, Tiger took the game to the next level and became the most dominant professional athlete in the world.

This year is no different. He won the PGA Championship in August and dominated the FedEx Cup Playoffs, shooting 22-under par in the final tournament, as well as six other victories.

But what is more impressive than his 81 career victories at the prime age of 31, is how he wins. No matter what style of golf course, no matter who he is competing against, and no matter what tournament, Tiger is the favourite and with good reason.

Never has an athlete been such a physical specimen – Tiger these days looks more like an NFL Cornerback than a golfer – as well as a mentally strong athlete. Tiger has shown it numerous times. When he gets in a zone, and that is usually often through out the golf season, there is no one in the world that can beat him. What makes him such a great athlete is not only his physical capabilities, it is his ability to focus so intently on each shot that he faces.

Combined with a mental psyche, Woods is the best athlete on the face of the earth. Bar none!

Sidney CrosbySidney Crosby

Sidney Crosby is the next budding young superstar in, not only hockey, but the world of sports. He is a fierce competitor and has the best combination of hockey skills and vision on the ice. In the next few years, Crosby will become the best athlete in the world. He is just beginning his hockey career and has already racked up 222 points (75-147) in two NHL seasons.

In junior hockey with the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL, Sid the Kid tallied a remarkable 303 points (120-183) in just 121 games over two years.

This past season, the new poster boy for the NHL took home the Art Ross trophy (league’s leading scorer), the Lester B. Pearson Award (player of the year as selected by his peers in the NHLPA) and the Hart Trophy (Most Valuable Player).

The stats speak for themselves on this one. The Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia native has taken hockey and transformed into the best player in the game. As the years go on, he will emerge as the top player to have ever played this game. No disrespect to Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr or Mario Lemieux, but Crosby will become the best.

Like Tiger, Crosby possesses a skill set that is a step above majority of his peers in the NHL, as well as top physical and mental form. Those two capacities of sports have evolved ten-fold in the last 15 years and have helped pave the way for an athlete like Crosby.

There are many other terrific athletes through out the world. Plain and simple, we don’t have that much time to talk about them.

One thing is for sure. As the evolution of sport grows through out the years to come, athletes will become even better – without steroids – and sports figures like Sidney Crosby and Tiger Woods will one day be surpassed. But their contribution to taking sports to the next level will ensure their legacies and immortality in the world of sports.