Like it or not, the defining narrative of life in Dallas-Fort Worth is sports: high-school sports, college sports and big-time professional sports.
If you don't believe me, consider the frenzy of last weekend. On Saturday, there were six college football games throughout the Metroplex, and an American League Division playoff game between the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays. On Sunday, there was another playoff game, plus a Dallas Cowboys home game at the $1.2 billion stadium in Arlington that will host the Super Bowl in February.
Do I wish that we, as a community, would show as much passion and commitment to more noble causes, like improving our air quality or our schools? Sure. But I don't dismiss the positive effects of our local sports culture, either. What else has the power to bring together hundreds of thousands of very different people every week -- heck, every day -- around a common cause?
Sports gets us talking, face to face, not just through Facebook. Working together. Cheering together.
Sometimes sports make us a little crazy. Especially after a weekend of deep disappointment like the one we just experienced. When the Rangers played their first home playoff game in 11 years Saturday, the air was so thick with anticipation and possibility, you could snap it with one of the free white towels they were handing out at the stadium gates. Three friends and I each paid $105 for tickets to the game -- and only one of us was a die-hard Rangers fan. In fact, I'm a lifelong Yankees fan (don't shoot!), but I knew the playoff atmosphere was something I didn't want to miss.
Despite the outcome -- a Rangers loss, followed by another Sunday -- I took away a memory that was well worth the price of admission. That high I felt walking toward the ballpark, high-fiving total strangers decked out in Rangers red, was something I'll remember and tell my son about for years to come.
So what if I felt slightly ill when Rangers closer Neftali Feliz relinquished the lead (and the Rangers' hopes of a sweep) in the eighth inning Saturday night? That's the roller-coaster ride that makes sports so addictive. When the Cowboys blow another home game, disappointment lodges in the pit of your stomach for a few hours. But when your No. 5 TCU Horned Frogs shut out a conference foe for the second straight week, your chest swells with pride for days.
And when your Texas Rangers reverse all that negative momentum and win their first playoff series, led by newly crowned folk hero/ace Cliff Lee, well, all the ups and downs suddenly seem worth it.
I grew up in New York and then South Florida, but over the past decade in DFW, I have become a Rangers, Mavs and Cowboys fan by association. (Sorry, Stars. Haven't warmed to hockey yet.)
The upcoming series between the Rangers and the Yankees will be amazing, and Arlington fandom will surely hit new heights. Maybe I'll see you at the Ballpark.
I'll be the guy in the Yankees cap secretly rooting on the Rangers.