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    Super Bowl Special: The Top Ten Mega-Sporting Events (5-1)

    So in honor of Super Bowl Sunday, I've compiled a list of my Top Ten Mega-Sporting Events. The first five I wrote about in part one, which to recap were:

    10. Triple Crown 9. The Grand Slams of Golf and Tennis 8. NBA Championships 7. Bowl Championship Series and 6. World Cup Soccer

    And now I present to you my top 5 Mega-Sporting Events:

    5. The Olympics (Summer) - Frankly, I'm never as interested in the actual competitions as I think I'm going to be, but this is just a cool concept and always a huge spectacle (perhaps never bigger than it was this year in Beijing). It was even cooler when it was limited to amateur athletes, but that distinction is so blurred now I can understand why that qualification disappeared. I love the fact that the Olympics are in certain ways totally separate from politics, and yet in other ways totally tied to politics as well. Plus, you can't have any more tradition and historical significance than you get with the Olympics. The Winter Olympics are cool, as well, but I'm even less interested in those events.

    4. World Series - I love baseball. As a native St. Louisan, it's kind of a pre-requisite, given that the Cardinals are by far one of the top 10 franchises in all of professional sports. Going to a baseball game is one of the most enjoyable leisure activities in this world. I have so many incredible childhood memories that involve the sport, and certainly one of the best moments in my recent life was when the Cardinals won the World Series in 2006. I really wish I could put the World Series higher, but i have to accept the fact that baseball is no longer America's game now, let alone the world's (I mean, it is kind of arrogant to use the word 'World' in your championship when your only claim to that title is the Blue Jays - in fact, the World Baseball Challenge is an emerging competition that has a lot of potential). I don't know if it's the aftermath of the whole steroids era, or maybe still lingering resentment from the strike, or maybe the talent dilution from expansion (particularly with pitching), or the way the Yankees continually make a mockery of the game's economics, but baseball just doesn't feel as relevant anymore.

    3. Stanley Cup - People who don't love hockey - and that includes the vast majority of Americans - won't get this one, but I love the Stanley Cup playoffs. True, it goes on for far too long (as does the NHL regular season), but the excitement of a postseason hockey game is almost overwhelming for me and my fragile heart. Nearly every rush up and down the ice is dramatic, and the intensity only increases as you get closer and closer to the end of the third period in a tight game. And if you happen to be lucky enough to get a sudden death overtime, there's nothing better. My St. Louis Blues used to hold the longest postseason appearance streak among any professional sports team - a dubious feat given they never won the Cup in those 24 years - so it's been quite sad to watch the team miss the playoffs the past several seasons. (Mark my words, however: The Blues have some amazing young talent that will lead the team back to the postseason next year at the latest, and to their first Cup within 5 years).

    2. Super Bowl - I talked enough about this one in the lead-in to the original column, so I don't have much to add here. But I just figured I'd throw in a photo of my most memorable Super Bowl moment here to the right. (I find it fascinating that I abandoned the Cardinals franchise when they left for Phoenix, and even started relishing in their failures, while I now root for a franchise that never played a game while I lived in St. Louis. If I have time, I hope to write a post this weekend on the psychology of fan loyalty. BTW, this weekend, for a variety of reasons, I will be rooting mightily for the Arizona Cardinals).

    1. March Madness - OK, this is probably at least as much about gambling as it is about sport, but is there any postseason experience more thrilling than the NCAA College Basketball 64-team tournament?? I so look forward to those first two weekends, when you can just plop yourself down in front of the TV and watch game after game after game, and it's almost a given that you are going to get enjoy at least several buzzer-beaters, overtime thrillers, and huge upsets. Even people who don't like basketball or don't know much about it usually enter an office pool of some sort, making what happens in March matter for almost everyone in America. For fans of teams still in the hunt (or gamblers with intact brackets), the drama only builds as the tournament rolls on to the Sweet Sixteen, the Elite Eight, and then the Final Four. When each round of your tournament gets its own special name, you know you're talking about a postseason done right. There is nothing else like it in the sports world.

    Ok, so that's my list. Did I miss anything? What would you change? Let 'er rip in the comments!!



    Cardinals? Blech. If you'd grown up a Cubs fan, you'd rank the World Series higher, if only for the hope that someday in your grandchildren's lifetimes they'd get to see the Cubs in one.

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