Two nights ago, after Alabama scored a touchdown to take the lead on LSU with 51 seconds remaining, I found myself literally running around my house and leaping for joy, whispering (because our six month-old was asleep) all sorts of jubilant curse words. My wife, who was asleep on the couch for entire second half, woke up and muttered something to the effect of, “Good God, Will. Calm down.”
I care about sports far more than anyone should care about ultimately irrelevant contests between teams of people I will likely never meet. Right about the time my wife was asking me why on Earth I had woken her up, I started to wonder how I had gotten this way. Why do I care so much? What has made me such a passionate sports fan?
Well, there are lots of things—weekend trips to visit family in Tuscaloosa, the place of my mother's birth all throughout my childhood, watching UNC games with my father and hearing him scream obscenities at Duke, playing sports since I was old enough to carry a bat, to name a few. Also, though, my sports fan experience has been greatly enhanced by my growing up during the video game generation. I didn't just watch games on TV, or read about them in the paper; I was actually playing them. Indoors. With my favorite players.
While I don't consider myself a gamer, I have certainly spent far more hours in front of a TV with a controller in my hand than anyone should. When talking about my sports video game experience, a few titles stand out more than others. These are the five games that inflamed my passion for sports and, in addition to all of the other reasons, made me the sports fan I am today.
Tecmo Bowl/Tecmo Super Bowl (NES):
Baseball Stars (NES):
Tecmo Super NBA Basketball (Super NES):
NCAA Football '98 (Playstation):
MLB 2000 (Playstation):
Without these games, I probably still would have run around my house like a joyful idiot on Saturday night. My love of college football runs deep. Without these games, though, I doubt I would have considered a career in sports media. Games have an ability to immerse us in a world that we have no hope of being a part of normally. These five gave me an escape. What are the games that made you a sports fan? How big of an idiot am I for leaving your favorite game off this list? Let me know!
Will Askew has more than a decade of experience in sports media. You can follow him on Twitter @waskew for his thoughts on sports, history, politics, and whatever else strikes his fancy. He has a patient wife of over two years and a lovely six month old baby boy named William, who will also care way too much about sports.