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25 things I still like about sports

Mid-major college teams. Other people like following major NCAA Division I teams like Duke, North Carolina, Michigan, Southern California and so on. But growing up in the Capital District, I have more of an affection toward the mid majors like Siena and UAlbany. There's something about watching a mid-major team play a major program that makes me automatically pull for the smaller school. Heck, I'll root for Gonzaga (which is bordering on becoming a major basketball program) if it's playing against someone like Florida or Syracuse. It's just fun to pull for the smaller school in that battle.

Nutty student cheering sections. Nothing adds flavor to a sporting event like a creative cheering section. Look at what the Cameron Crazies do for the Duke men's basketball team at home games. Besides creating a near-constant soundscape, they get inside the heads of the opposing players by finding one little thing about them or their school and chanting it at them. A little mean spirited? Perhaps. But it's still better than seeing people sit on their hands. Locally, we're starting to catch on with such student sections as Bethlehem's BC Hooligans (the only known soccer-specific section I've seen), Guilderland's Red Sea and Mohonasen's Black Hole.

Mascots. I know they can be an annoyance to the serious sports fan. But a good mascot can add something to the live sporting experience. How can anyone hate the Philly Phanatic? I mean, he's goofy looking, and he can sometimes block your view of the field with his big, green body. But he also pokes fun at the umpires, the visiting players and the opposing team's coaches in that good-natured, wouldn't-really-harm-a-fly sort of way. Also, it's fun to see a mascot get a come-uppance once in a while. Anytime Syracuse's Otto the Orange gets pummeled on a "This is SportsCenter" commercial, I can't help but laugh. Maybe I secretly hate walking oranges. I don't know.

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