We miss sports so much so that we started asking ourselves this question: What was the moment or reason that we fell in love with sports in the first place? Now we’re sharing the stories that answer that question. Our stories and yours.
The story below is from USA TODAY Sports’ NFL columnist Mike Jones.
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“Grandson, do you understand what this means? This is history!”
The images and emotions of January 31, 1988, remain vivid.
Sprawled on the floor of my grandfather’s living room in tiny Frytown, Virginia, I could sense the excitement as Doug Williams and the Washington Redskins racked up touchdown after touchdown during that legendary Super Bowl XXII second quarter.
Perched on the edge of his La-Z-Boy, Chester Jones gripped the arms of the chair and fidgeted with excitement. He and my father let out hoops, hollers and cheers after every big play.
It may have been my earliest sports memory, and despite the limited comprehension of my 7-year-old brain, I knew something special was happening. The reactions of the players on the screen. signaled this, as did the reactions of two of the biggest figures of influence in my life.
I grinned and told Granddaddy I understood. But he knew better. At halftime, he and my father, Rick, explained the deeper significance of Washington’s dominant performance. They described the plight of the Black quarterback and how Williams’ heroics were at last shattering decades of stereotypical shackles.
I still had much to learn. About football. About culture. The world around me. But that’s the night I fell in love with sports.
It wasn’t just because the family’s beloved football team went on to win the Super Bowl. The unity of the moment – three generations sharing such strong emotions – that drew me in.
No longer would I hurriedly scarf down Sunday dinner, change from church clothes into play clothes and run outside to play. I was hooked. I wanted to camp out in front of the big, old TV with Granddaddy and Daddy.
No matter the season, I would be there. From football to basketball, baseball, golf, the Olympics and back to football again. I wanted more of the excitement. Whether in that living room or at Walker’s Barbershop in Old Town Warrenton, I wanted to hear the debates on the greatness of players, coaches and teams. I wanted to hear the arguments about strategy and what they should have done.
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Each Sunday, I waited my turn to pour over the pages of the Washington Post Sports section – after my granddad and dad finished it – then gobbled whatever information I could.
As my knowledge expanded, I came to appreciate the struggle and sacrifices that paved the way for athletic greatness. I came to admire how these athletes made the impossible possible.
But more than anything, I loved the family time that sports created.
My grandfather died in 2007, but there’s not a sporting event on any level that I watch, or cover, that I don’t wonder what he’d think. Sports still dominates the conversations my father and I share, and now as a dad, I’ve got a sports-loving household of my own.
Sports offers us so much, but most of all, if you’re a Jones, sports mean family. That’s why I fell in love.
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