It transcends the team, and even the sport, to give us some of the most memorable moments of our lives.
Maybe the memory is generated by one of the most impressive and historic feats by a human you have ever witnessed.
I’ll always remember sitting with my little brother on the front room floor watching Josh Hamilton build the city of New York into a frenzy as home run ball after home run ball continued to sail out of Old Yankee Stadium during the 2008 Home Run Derby.
One of the most historic temples to American sports was getting one last tribute at the hands of one of the most inspirational baseball players to currently play.
As I watched those 28 first round homers pepper the back of the “House that Ruth Built” I knew that what I had just witnessed would be something to carry with me forever.
However, maybe your favorite sports memory wasn’t even created by the event itself but rather something that happened around the event.
My father has always been a loyal Cubs fan, so naturally ‘Cubbie Blue’ is the color I was raised on, and as often as we could, my family would make the pilgrimage to another Mecca of baseball, the hallowed Wrigley Field.
Now, I’ve been to the “Bricks and Ivy” a few times in my young life. I can’t tell you who played in every game or what the final score came out to be, but I’ll always remember our botched Italian lunch on the way to the “Friendly Confines.”
We left our Wrigleyville hotel decked out in Cubs apparel and geared up for a day in the stands. Before hitting the gates we decided to grab a bite to eat. The gentleman at the hotel’s front desk recommended an Italian restaurant down the street, so we set out.
I don’t know that I’ve ever felt more out of place. We walked into a black-tie bistro armed only with Mark Grace T-Shirts, shorts, baseball caps and a ball glove or two.
Before we could make heads or tails of our situation, we found ourselves being seated in a small dining room among suited businessmen and women conducting various lunch meetings.
Menus in a language we didn’t understand were given to us, and my dad’s request for a sweet tea was met with an astounding “deer in headlights” kind of look from our pretentious but polite waiter.
But, we soldiered on. We ate the dishes we blindly ordered, staggered out of the restaurant shell-shocked and took in a Cubs game (most likely a loss). To this day, that lunch debacle is a source of laughs when I get together with the folks.
Or, maybe that memory that sticks with you is because of the people you took in the sporting event with.
My mind casts back to Super Bowls past, spent with good friends. Yet, recently I was lucky enough to add another memory in this fashion.
I recently celebrated my first year anniversary with my beautiful wife and best friend, Myriam. To celebrate we visited the island nation of Grenada, a commonwealth of the British empire. Around 75 percent of the tourists who visit the island’s resorts come from the United Kingdom.
It was finally my chance to take in a soccer match in and around people who eat, breathe and sleep the sport.
England, at that time, was still alive and well in the Euro 2012 tournament, and come match day about 30 English supporters crowded into a tiny room to watch the game on the only TV the resort had to offer.
Every touch of the ball was followed with rapt attention. The cheers were loud, the hisses were filled with good-natured venom and the atmosphere was something I’ll always remember.
So much could happen with any touch of the ball, and for 90 minutes a nation’s pride hung in the balance.
And, in that small room, half a world away, 30 men and women’s worlds revolved around every time a shot was volleyed or the ball was stolen by the opposition.
That experience was without a doubt the most unapologetic and electric display of national sports fanaticism I have ever witnessed, and I hope some day to replicate the experience on British soil.
Sports can be a catalyst in our lives. It can take seemingly mundane situations and transform them into something more, something to be remembered and cherished.
When used correctly, sports can further unite us with those we love or forge new friendships with fans half a world away.
Memories are the greatest souvenirs we can hold onto. They take the “game” and transform it into something bigger, making legends of moments for our own personal recollection.