There are things that make us Americans, and then there are things that make us American sports fans. You're an American because you want to work hard, live in the suburbs, make enough money to take care of your family and, someday, maybe leave a little something for them when you go.
You're an American sports fan because you can tell your neighbor all the information — personal and otherwise — about the last 10 guys to start at quarterback for the Chiefs.
Hopefully that illuminates it a little, because on this, the most American of days, I'd like to look at the things that I love about American sports. What makes me that fan.
Some of it's ugly, some of it's pretty. Some of it I'm proud of, some of it not so much:
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I love NBA free agency. And, when it's over, I'll miss it the way I do my favorite TV shows after the season finale. I love the Dickens in it all. I love that LeBron James, born to a 16-year-old mother and an ex-con that split before LeBron was even born, now rules the sporting world and could end up making a billion dollars. If that's not the American Dream, then you tell me what is.
I love dollar beers at Lawrence-Dumont in the stickiest, most stifling summer heat you can imagine.
I love Friday night football games at Bishop Carroll. It's that cannon. It gets me every time.
I love that I can never turn my back on the Chiefs even though I talk about it more than the most embittered, jilted lover to ever walk the face of the earth.
I love that Bill Snyder means you've got a shot.
I love when Allen Fieldhouse becomes some sort of crazy, fire-breathing monolith in the winter.
And on that note, I love that the Big 12 lived in some form. It's demise would have broken me a little bit.
I love that once a generation we get to see Valentine to Carr, Walker to Dies, Wessel to Ellis. I love that there's a couple of little kids sitting in some elementary school in Wichita right now that will turn the City League — the state — on its head one day.
I love that I can make what I think is a concrete argument for why it's ridiculous to ever rush the pitching mound because if you're going to go after anybody, it should be the catcher. Because he was in on it, too. And because you never attack higher ground.
I love coming around the turn at Tex Consolver.
I love Koch Arena, packed, with something on the line.
I love Sports Daily and The Jungle back-to-back every morning.
I love winning in Fantasy Football.
And more than anything, I love knowing that someday, all the things that I love so much could turn on a dime. That in a moment of despair, I could curse all those things that have given me so much joy only to find out that it was them that would never leave me.
Because then, and only then, I can breathe a sigh of relief. I can remind myself how wonderful it all really is.
And there will be so much to look forward to.