SPORTS: How do I love sports? Let me list the ways

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Lance Armstrong beating cancer, the Tour de France field and the French press. The Red Sox, down 0-3, over the Yankees. Never say never.

“And down the stretch they come!” at the Kentucky Derby. “Gentlemen, start your engines,” at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The alpenglow on the San Gabriels above the Rose Bowl late in the third quarter. A three-pointer to win at the buzzer … unless it’s against the Pacers. Hinkle Fieldhouse, anytime. Amen Corner on an April Sunday at Augusta. The looks of horror on the faces of Knicks fans when Reggie Miller squares up for a trey in Madison Square Garden. Slick Leonard’s “Boom, baby.” A play action fake, followed by Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison. Or Peyton Manning to Reggie Wayne. Or Peyton Manning to Brandon Stokely. Dwight Freeney’s first step. The Monon Bell Game. Other rivalries, like Army-Navy, Indiana-Purdue, Duke-North Carolina, Oklahoma-Texas. The longest of long shots coming out of nowhere to do something totally improbable, like John Daly at Crooked Stick. Kids with baseball mitts on the outfield berm on a perfect summer’s eve at Victory Field. Homecomings. Even at IU. Tailgates. Even at IU. Notre Dame’s campus before an October home game. Selection Sunday. The Final Four. NCAA upsets, like Villanova over Georgetown. Or North Carolina State over Houston. Or Princeton over UCLA. Or Valpo over Mississippi. College bands … well, most of them. College fight songs … well, most of them. College mascots … well, most of them. High school football on a Friday night. Nicknames, like the Frankfort Hot Dogs, Speedway Spark Plugs, Hobart Brickies or LaPorte Slicers. The last three outs of a no-hitter. The lighting of the Olympic cauldron. The Hannenkahm downhill. Reminiscing about the American Basketball Association. The anticipation of a big game. Tiger Woods’ fist-pump. The purity of Special Olympics. Season-openers. Seventh games. A well-coached Indiana high school basketball team that overcomes inferior athletic skills with superior savvy and execution. The Big House at Michigan. The 100-meter dash and the 50-meter swim at the Olympics. World’s fastest on land and sea. Those who win with humility and lose with class.

Indy as a sports town.

My wife, Sherry, who has had to be a “sports wife” all these years, going back to the days when a “date” consisted of her accompanying me to a high school game I was covering, where she would chart rebounds and assists, then sit patiently while I wrote and filed my story.

Thanks, honey. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Benner is a former sports columnist for The Indianapolis Star. His column appears weekly. To comment on this column, go to IBJ Forum at www.ibj.comor send e-mail to

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