Everyday is something to be thankful for, but we often take it for granted. Thanksgiving Day is a time for reflection and a time to make sure we tell those who we care for, how much they mean to us. Sports are an important part of many of our lives, mine included. They are not just sources of entertainment but something to put our hope in, something to take us away from our problems and fears, and much more. Here are ten things within the world of sports that I am thankful for.
#10. MLB Free Agency
In 1975 MLB players won the right to have free agency. Prior to this, players were bound to one team until released or traded. The free agency period has not only been exciting to track over the past few decades, it has significantly helped many teams in improving their rosters and allows players to play for multiple teams throughout their career while being able to get competing offers for their services.
#9. NHL Playoffs
Although there is no NHL hockey being played right now due to the lockout, playoff hockey is one of the most exciting playoffs in all of sports. The intensity and excitement from the NHL playoffs is unmatched by any playoff system outside of the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
#8. NFL Draft
The NFL draft is a three-day event that gives fans of every NFL team hope. There are surprises, upset fans, amazing stories of the players, and lots of drama. There is no non-game event like the NFL draft in all of sports.
#7. Increasingly Entertaining NBA
Is it just me, or is the NBA more entertaining than it has been in two decades? The NBA has been able to build even more excitement and drama over the past few years with Lebron James joining the Miami Heat, the rise of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and many other story lines. The world of sports is a much more beautiful thing when the NBA is exciting.
#6. NFL Video Replay
Although referees continue to blow calls even after being replayed, NFL replay has been long overdue as the game is often too fast to make the right call on the field. Giving teams the ability to have the referees take a second look at a play has improved the quality of games and gives referees a chance to correct their on-filed mistakes.
#5. MLB Wild Card Playoff Spots
Before 1994, there were no wild card playoff spots in MLB. Only the division winners had the right to play for the pennant and ultimately a World Series Championship. Since the wild card playoff spot has be instituted, 10 teams have advanced to the World Series and 5 have won the World Series. For the 2012 season, an additional wild card spot was added for both the American League and the National League. The wild card has added excitement to the game of baseball, which needs updates to keep up with the growing popularity of the NFL and NBA.
#4. The Olympics
The Olympics seem to be the one great sporting event that everyone forgets about until a couple of weeks before the opening ceremony, and then for those couple of weeks, they seem to be all that matters. The Olympics have some of the greatest story lines ever including the Miracle on Ice, Jesse Owens winning four gold medals in the 1936 Olympics, and more.
#3. No More BCS
There is finally a playoff system in place for college football. Although they will not take place until the 2014-2015 season, the new four-team playoff format will be a welcome site for college football fans everywhere. Most fans were hoping for an 8 or 16 team playoff format, but this is a great start, and something to be thankful for.
#2. Fantasy Sports
Fantasy sports is not just a great distraction from things you are supposed to be doing like work and spending time with family (just kidding), they are a way to keep in contact with friends you really don’t care for, a way to lose money, and a reason to cheer for players who otherwise, you wouldn’t care about. I am thankful for the distraction from the real world that fantasy sports has provided me.
#1. The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament
The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is the greatest event in all of sports. A total of 68 teams make the March Madness event and play until only one team is left standing. Not only are there upsets, buzzer beaters, and great story lines, the bracket has provided us with another fantasy sports game, and a way to gamble with others in the office.
This Thanksgiving, make sure to spend time with loved ones and family, and remember that although we are thankful for all that sports has to offer, there is much more in life to be thankful for.
*Michael Luchies is a Michigan native and a passionate Detroit sports fan.