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Posted by Nov - 24 - 2011 0 Comment

The Browns are 4-6, and on their 5th permanent head coach since 1999. The Indians have made the playoffs just twice in the last decade. The Cavs, well they aren’t even playing right now. So why would anyone in Cleveland be a thankful sports fan? I’ll tell you why.

Cleveland is a microcosm of our nation, its residents sharing in struggles found similar to those across the country. Jobs are an endangered specie in Ohio. Ours schools struggle with budgets much like so many families who’s children attend said schools. One of two things clutter the roadways in Northeast Ohio: snow or orange barrels. The government? Well, they could help if they could get out of their own way. Yet, regardless the aforementioned challenges the sun still rises. The days don’t stop, and every seventh is a Sunday. 52 each year. In the fall the NFL holds court here with our beloved Browns on 16 of them. In the spring and summer, a sun splashed ball diamond at E.9th and Ontario (best known as The Jake to real Indians fans) gives fans and families a place to watch the Tribe play the same game we still play everywhere from neighborhood side streets to back country pastures. And someday again, (when the millionaire crybabies on both sides of the bargaining table stop treating dollars like donated organs) the Cavs will be back on the hardwood, playing the same game kids play in schoolyards and driveways across the Northcoast. And let’s not forget the fantastic array of collegiate sports teams that are all within a stone’s throw of the 480/77 exchange. From the Vikings of CSU to the teams in the MAC (virtually Ohio’s own collegiate conference) where our local high schoolers go to take the next step in their journey to perhaps someday play in the venues downtown. Then there’s a place that needs only to be mentioned with an “O-H….”

It isn’t simply the existence of these teams that makes Cleveland a great sports town. My garage has two cars and a motorcycle in it; that doens’t make it the paddock at Daytona. What makes Cleveland a great sports town is its fans. In Cleveland, our sports teams aren’t simply the distraction from the rigors of daily life for the working, they are our professional proxy. We live vicariously through each jersey that displays the name ‘Cleveland’. Regardless of the business of sports today, Cleveland’s professional athletes aren’t just glamorous sport mercenaries, they are us. And the great ones never die or move on, they stay here. Lots of them reside here long after the glory under the lights can only be found on old reels of game film. I don’t have to reiterate who they are, you already know for you are a Cleveland sports fan. The fraternity that is Cleveland sports fans is bound by a thread draws us together in time of joy or moments of sorrow as each of our teams rise and fall in their competitive exploits. When the Browns are winning, Monday morning at work just isn’t so bad. The coffee tastes better, the donuts are fresher, and the sun while shining never sits below our car’s visor. When they lose, the coffee is mud, the donuts are stale like glazed hockey pucks, and the sun is right in our eyes, even when headed west in the morning (unless, of course it’s raining which we all know happens a lot). We pass this on to our children as we cultivate the next generation of die-hard Cleveland sports fans. We inadvertently teach them proper expletive etiquette through sports induced fits of Tourettes, an unfortunate byproduct of our long suffering nature. Yet, each time one of our teams takes the field or the court, we root them on regardless of what they may have put us through. We forgive and forget more with our sports teams than we sometimes do with members of our own families. If you think I’m wrong, scan your Thanksgiving day table, filled with extended family. Bet your crazy Uncle Bob isn’t there. But I bet there are at least two folks in Browns sweatshirts, and someone showed up – in late November – in an Indians hat. Maybe next year you invite Bob (and that nutty 3rd wife of his), even if you have to make a spot at the kids table.

So as I get ready to embark on this Thanksgiving day, filled with family gatherings and licensed gluttony, I’ll take a moment and list just some of the things in Cleveland sports that make me a thankful fan. Things beyond the many teams that call my hometown home.

  • I’m thankful for the guys and gals that I have sat with for 13 years in section 147 of Cleveland Browns Stadium. They have hepled make the occasional win fun, and the multiple losses bearable.
  • I’m thankful to have an FM sports talk station in Cleveland. (FINALLY!!!!)
  • I am thankful to have heard the Browns, Indians, and Cavs over the last year through the golden voices of Jimmy Donovan, Tom Hamilton, and the great Joe Tait. If you don’t know it already, we are absolutely spoiled by the play-by-play men we have in our town. (Joe, I will miss you dearly. Jimmy, glad you are back!)
  • I am thankful as a fan, coach, and father that guys from Northeast Ohio come home to give back to the fans here at home in many ways. Guys like Barry Cofield who come work hands on at a football camp, not just showing kids techniques, but talks to them about the game and more.
  • I am thankful that, for two minutes, the Jaguars were worse at play calling and clock management than the Browns typically have been.
  • I am thankful that my football team’s helmet doesn’t have a logo. It is a logo.
  • I am thankful that if we did have a logo, we’d be smart enough to put it on BOTH sides of the helmet.
  • I am thankful that its been 2,924 days (and counting!) since Michigan beat Ohio State. (That means my 7 year old daughter has never known defeat to that team from up north, and my 11 year old doesn’t remember it. Suck on that, Wolverines!)
  • I am thankful for each person that has taken a moment to read anything I have ever written here. (All 9 of you.)

May each and every one of you have a truly Happy Thanksgiving! May your hearts be as full as your bellies, and your holiday season filled with memories to last a lifetime. Oh, and my crazy Uncle Bob? He’s not coming to my house. I am going to his. I love that guy!

Categories: Featured, General

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