Thursday, January 26, 2017

Sports Stories Surprise Us

Though I cannot tell who reads Sports and Spirituality, I can determine how many unique views each entry has gotten. I can also ascertain where my audience lives, but only by continent. My second most popular posting hails from one continent—the Land of Oz. Much to my surprise, the January 26, 2011 blog Australia Day + Australian Open = A G'Day has been read by 10,000 people. I'd love to know how many of those readers live Down Under. I'd also like to know why that story has proven to be so popular. I've been wrong about sports stories before, and as my blog has proven, I will be wrong about them again. 
In the last month, "Catholics v. Convicts: The Story Behind ESPN's Shirt of the Century" surpassed my tribute to the National Day of Australia with over 12,000 unique views. More people took to ESPN's 30 for 30: Catholic vs. Convicts than I ever thought possible. My sense was that the story would only interest those who loved the once storied Miami vs. Notre Dame rivalry. I figured most sports fans would deem this tale as one that is no longer relevant. Boy, was I wrong. I've had more people stop me to tell me how much they enjoyed everything about the ESPN film, including many of my own students, who—honestly—have never been required to watch it for credit or for extra credit (ok maybe). And my first blog posting on this topic is now my most popular entry of all time.
I have always loved writing about the Williams Sisters. Their story of their lives speaks for itself; remarkable content and the very fact that I am still able to write about them—their on-going success and outstanding careers is a blessing. This year's women's final gives me yet again another opportunity to enjoy tennis' two greatest siblings. As written by the BBC, "It would also be a seventh Australian Open victory for the younger Williams sister, while Venus hopes to win an eighth major title, first in  Melbourne and first since Wimbledon 2008." This is already a great feat, but the casual observer should know that Serena and Venus are the second and thirteenth seeds, both women are in their mid 30s, and should Serena win she would earn her 23rd grand slam title. Her older sister by 18 months seeks to write her own tale. The Aussie sports commentator told Serena (after she defeated Johanna Konta), "We love you here in Australia. You've won a lot and we hope you will win some more!!!"  
But on this 230th Australia Day, I would like to raise a glass to a country so many Americans love with the same affection extended on Center Court to America's greatest female athlete. It is much more than a home to the best accent in the English language...rather, it is a country, a people, and a culture that has given both sports and spirituality, some of its greatest content, stories, champions, cheers and mates. A place and a people I never get tired of writing about...or that you deem unworthy of reading. No surprise there!

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