While I've always heard that Christmas is the season for giving, I'd be just as inclined to say that it is also the season for wishing, hoping and giving thanks.
I've decided over time that for sports fans, there are distinct differences between each one.
Personally, while there is always time for wishing that I was richer, skinnier and perhaps married to a supermodel, it's only because I work in the media world (and am not Ted Turner), running a mile takes a lot more effort than covering the distance in my car and most world famous runway models haven't realized how great my personality is, that I'm forced into directing my wishing and hoping towards my sports teams.
In the sports world, wishing and hoping is just as much a part of the sports fans' persona as a recliner and a cold beverage (your choice depending on your team's likely fate).
Hoping tends to take place in the months leading up to a season and is most prevalent in the hardy baseball fan's heart.
The phrase, 'hope springs eternal' is pretty much a mantra if your a Cubs or Red Sox fan. This year was especially brutal for Cubs fans who enjoyed a ride that they haven't seen in about 20 years. But all the hope in the world wasn't enough to stop Lady Luck from colliding with Steve Bartman and helped Alex Gonzalez forget he's a Gold Glove caliber shortstop.
So, thus the wishing begins, all those Cubs fans have spent the offseason wishing for a bullpen and begging Santa for some middle relievers.
Personally, as a Reds fan, baseball season annually has brought a lot of heartache, especially since "Junior" was brought in to be our savior.
While the ever-delicate Ken Griffey Jr. spends half the year on the bench with one injury or another, I get to spend half the year banging my head on my desk as teams ring up Playstation-esque scores on our starting rotation.
So while I hoped that our starter's ERA would perhaps drop below Allen Iverson's career scoring average, I eternally wished for a 'real' number one starter. Or heck, for that matter I wished a real, live number two, three or four pitcher might be left in the Reds stockings. But with a rapidly spiraling payroll the chance of giving thanks this year on the baseball circuit is slim, which leads me to look a little closer to home.
For area teams there was plenty to give thanks for in this school year.
At Northview High School, the Fall sports season included State Finals berths for both the girls' golf team and girls' cross-country teams as well as boys' team member Justin Scherb. The football team was brought the chance to face the number one ranked team in the state in a rare Saturday afternoon contest. The Knights took advantage with a 20-0 victory, one of just two losses on the year for the Vincennes Alices.
In soccer, the girls squad overcame the loss of a friend and teammate in senior Kellyn Andrews to a car accident and then rallied for a strong season and a berth in the sectional finals before losing to South Vermillion. The boys team battled injuries all season long before coming together to play Terre Haute South tough early before dropping a 5-0 sectional decision.
Over at Clay City High School, the cross-country squads made impressive runs in the season to advance to regional competition.
This winter has also brought opportunities for giving thanks as well as bringing forth hope and a few wishes no doubt.
Hopes are high for basketball programs at each school while thanks must be given for athletes who are finally beginning to get healthy.
At Clay City, the girls squad is improving dramatically. Their hoops fans can smile as hopes were realized for their girls who suffered through a tough season last year, but always kept their heads up and have started to win.
In the boys program, the Eels had some questions to answer after losing to All-Conference players to graduation. But they have shown opponents around the area that they are still not to be trifled with and have the talent to win on any night.
Over in Brazil, it's hard to wipe the smile off your face if your a boys basketball fan.
The Knights are 7-0 overall, ranked 10th in the state and have beaten all comers by at least 13 points. Add to that the fact that the team will get a chance at a rare double this Saturday and you have to excited.
No fewer than five members of Northview's varsity basketball squad were members of the football team that knocked off a No. 1 team in the Fall. Those players will get the chance to do the same on Saturday when they take on top-ranked Class 4A's Lawrence North in the Hall of Fame Classic at 10 a.m.
The girls team got a bit of an early present when sophomore center Julie Whitted returned to Northview High School after transferring to Hamilton Southeastern early in the year and hopes remain high for a team that lost by just four points to previously top-ranked Bloomington North.
For Northview wrestlers, spirits are high as well as there are hopes that a handful of Knights could advance far in the postseason. Several grapplers have already gotten close to the 20-win mark for the season with holiday tournaments on their way.
Those who immerse themselves in prep, college or professional sports are certainly familiar with the process of hoping for their team's success or wishing their team could add that final piece of the championship puzzle, but giving thanks is what is most important. And that is most imperative on the local level.
So for me I want to thank all the coaches and athletes that help make this job so very enjoyable. While I'll likely never be monetarily rich sitting at this keyboard as I write my articles, I'll consider myself rich in the wonderful people I get to meet. So thank you to all those who've made my job a little easier and for those who've offered me kind words about my work. But most of all thank you to the family and friends who understand when I can't always be there because of my work, but who are never lacking in the love they offer when I am there.
To everyone happy holidays, keep on hoping for those championships, but for now if you'll excuse me, I need to write Santa a letter about not bringing me that supermodel this season.