Skip to main content

Happy Birthday, America's Sports: 246 Reasons to Love New England Games and Those Who Play Them

On this Fourth of July, let's celebrate every Patriot from Sam "Bam" Cunningham to John Hannah to Mac Jones.

Happy Birthday, America’s Sports!

From masks to guns to politics to Roe v. Wade and even Johnny Deep vs. Amber Heard, America finds itself fiercely divided.

Thankfully we have sports to keep us united, or at least from completely unraveling at the seams. Even apart, thanks to sports we stand together.

We may not love the same teams, but we do cherish the games, leagues, players and moments that provide respite from the larger issues threatening to crowbar us as a country.

Without sports, this Fourth of July would be all red, white and boo. It’s as though the victory cigars light the fireworks.

That said, we’re in a slump.

America once dominated around the globe. Don’t look now, but the world has closed the gap. In some cases, foreigners are even hogging hardware.

What once was Mike Tyson is now Tyson Fury (boxing), Lance Armstrong is now Tadej Pogačar (cycling), Pete Sampras now Rafael Nadal (tennis) and Tiger Woods (golf) now Jon Rahm and Matthew Fitzpatrick. Our last two U.S. Open golf championships have been won by a Spaniard and a Brit; last American to capture the U.S. Open men’s tennis title was Andy Roddick in 2003.

Canadian-born Cale Makar won Stanley Cup Finals MVP this month, and a handful of American stars are leaving the PGA Tour to play golf on the Saudi Arabian-backed LIV Tour.

Not long ago we set our watches by the championship appearances of LeBron James and Serena Williams. LeBron’s Lakers haven’t won a playoff series the last two seasons. Serena won her last major in 2017 and last week lost in the first round at Wimbledon to an unknown player ranked No. 115.

The NBA’s last four MVPs are from Serbia (Nikola Jokic) and Greece (Giannis Antetokounmpo). In the last 13 Ryder Cups we’re 4-9. The U.S. hasn’t won the Davis Cup since 2007. We won’t win the Tour de France. We’ve only won one World Baseball Classic. We never sniff advancing in the men’s World Cup. We’re not even a lock any longer to win sailing’s America’s Cup.

The most dynamic player in baseball? Japan’s Shohei Ohtani.

Thankfully, all is not lost.

The NFL – America’s real pastime – has never had an MVP born outside our borders. And if we really wanna go jingoistic, thanks to our most dominant “athlete” – Joey Chestnut – America has won the last 14 July 4th Hot Dog Eating championships.

We may need to squint a little harder to see them, but there are still countless reasons to be proud of American sports on the country’s 246th birthday. On this Fourth of July – between the burgers and bikinis – take time to admire and appreciate each unique flame on this homemade, sports-centric cake: 246 candles, 246 reminders why we love our games and the people who play them.

Here’s hoping it reminds you how fortunate we are to have a variety of sports, and the freedom to choose which ones we love and/or loathe.

Happy Birthday, America’s sports!

Consume this list in one barbecued bite. Or nibble all during the holiday. Whatever.

It is, after all, a free country.

246. Hosting World Cup 2026

245. Face masks on sports helmets, not civilian heads.

244. Bill Belichick: All hoodie, no hoopla.

243. Hondo Havlicek.

242. Aaron Hernandez, Josh Brent, Tim Donaghy, Lance Armstrong, Terdema Ussery, Dan Snyder and Deshaun Watson, each held accountable.

241. Cris Collinsworth’s insight and Tony Romo’s intuition.
240. Zion Williamson’s hops and hope.
239. Texas-OU Weekend, whether part of the Big 12 or SEC.

238. Aaron Judge’s exit velocity.
237. Johnny Football, fleeting as it was.
236. Wiffle Ball in the back yard.
235. Labor peace in baseball. But just barely.

234. Kawhi Leonard’s humility.
233. Unretired: Brady, Gronk, Witten and Ali before them all.

232. Bobby Orr.

231. Matthew Stafford, vindicated after all these years.

230. Manny being Manny.

229. The Chief.

228. Arch in Austin: Continuing the Manning family legacy?

227. Dave Roberts’ stolen base, when all seemed lost.

226. The star on the helmet.
225. Yankees pinstripes.
224. The 18th at Pebble Beach.
223. Dollar Dog Night.

222. Vince Wilfork’s overalls

221. “Hail Mary” and Touchdown Jesus.
220. The Ice Bowl, the Rose Bowl and the Beer ’n Bowl.
219. Dave Cowens’ floor burns.

218. Cameron Crazies and Reunion Rowdies
217. Eldrick “Tiger” Woods.
216. Fisk around the foul pole.

215. Serena and Venus Williams.
214. Boston’s Green Monster and Augusta’s green jacket.
213. The 12th Man.
212. Brian’s Song.
211. Sammy Baugh, Doak Walker, Davey O’Brien and Kyler Murray, soaring over their size.

210. “H-O-R-S-E,” “Hot Box” and “Tackle the Man with the Football.”
209. Happy Valley and March Madness.
208. Vince Young in, around and through USC’s defense.
207. The 7th-inning stretch and “Down the stretch they come!”
206. Army-Navy.
205. Kevin McHale’s Fred Astaire-footwork on the low block.

204. Caddyshack.
203. “Gentlemen, start your engines!”
202. Justin Leonard on 17, 1999 at Brookline.

201. Vince Lombardi.
200. Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett-Ray Allen, circa 2008.

199. Kobe Bryant.

198. The Manning Family.
197. The Three J’s, The Four Horsemen and The Fab Five.
196. “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”
195. Hawg hats and Minnesota Fats.
194. Tommy Heinsohn, on the floor and behind the mic.

193. A two-putt birdie.
192. Wide Right and Student Body Left.
191. Josh Hamilton’s power electrifying Yankee Stadium in the Home Run Derby.
190. The smell of fresh-cut grass on Opening Day.
189. Sam “Bam” Cunningham over the pile.

188. Boban Marjanovic’s size and disposition.
187. Pizza delivered exactly five minutes before kickoff.
186. Robert Kraft’s philanthropy.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

185. “The Immaculate Reception.”
184. Jinxing a no-hitter.
183. Jimmy Connors at Flushing Meadows. At night.
182. Alligator arms, swim moves and The Shark. Kenny Gant, not Greg Norman.
181. Tom Dempsey’s long kick with a short foot.
180. Rivalry week.

179. Underdogs.
178. Pat Patriot and the throwback reds.

177. Fans who refuse to do “The Wave.”
176. Hat tricks via bicycle kicks.
175. Rocket.

174. NFL Films.
173. God’s gifts to Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders and Bob Hayes.
172. Bobby Knight’s sweaters. And trifecta bettors.
171. Curt Schilling’s bloody sock.

170. Al Horford’s old man strength.

169. Red Zone Channel.
168. Two points, three-peats and four-baggers through the five hole.
167. Marcus Smart’s tenacity.

166. Slap Shot.
165. Wes Welker and Julian Edelman, splendid in the slot.

164. John Wooden’s program, Jerry Tarkanian’s towel and Red Auerbach’s cigar.
163. Booing Roger Goodell. Admiring Adam Silver.
162. Taking your glove to the game.
161. Andre Tippett’s speed around the corner.

160. “Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!”
159. Amen corner. And Death Valley.
158. Nike vs. Reebok vs. Adidas vs. Under Armor.
157. No. 16 over No. 1.
156. “Boomer Sooner”, “Rocky Top” and “wake up the echoes.”
155. Kindred spirits who also hate Joe Buck.
154. Phil Jackson’s Triangle and Dean Smith’s four corners.
153. The versatility and vision of Colin Kaepernick.
152. The Great One and The Greatest.
151. Instant replay.
150. Monday Night Football’s original theme music.
149. “Havlicek stole the ball!”
148. A-Roid.
147. Don Nelson’s beautiful back-rim bonce.

146. Between the hedges.
145. Shutting up Spike Lee.
144. Yaz.

143. The chills + a hangover + the day off = Jan. 1 bowl day.
142. Two minutes for roughing.
141. 30 for 30.

140. The Cubs’ “Friendly Confines” vs. the Raiders’ “Black Hole.”
139. The Zamboni.
138. Yankees-Red Sox, Duke-North Carolina and Michigan-Ohio State.
137. ”He could … go … all .. the … way … !!!”
136. Tedy Bruschi, manning the middle.

135. Tailgating, tickets or not.
134. Heisman hype.
133. Bob Cousy, ahead of his time.

132. Eyeballs vs. analytics.
131. Damon’s dagger at Yankee Stadium.

130. Tim Duncan’s bank shot.
129. Rick Barry’s underhand free throw.
128. Goal-line stands and the Stanford band.
127. “Can I have your autograph?”
126. Tom Brady in the pocket and Patrick Mahomes out of it.
125. Kevin Durant, fickle championship-chaser.

124. Bill Parcells’s football foundation.

123. Lambeau Field, January.
122. Sports talk radio wars.
121. Then: Defense wins championships; Now: First one to 50.
120. “Steeeerriiiike Three!,” “Let’s play two!” and “We’re No. 1!”
119. Big Papi, when desperation beckoned.

118. Dropping the gloves. And catching big air.
117. Kareem’s “Sky Hook” and Errol Spence Jr.’s right hook.
116. “Coooold beeeeeer!!”
115. Robert Horry, Adam Vinatieri and Mariano Rivera, when it really mattered.
114. Bobblehead night.
113. The fair pole.
112. Anyone who beats Nick Saban.
111. Wade Boggs’ art of the single.

110. Your baseball cap in the dishwasher; shoestring around your glove.
109. Office pools.
108. “Pistol Pete”, Sampras and/or Maravich.
107. Day games.
106. “The Catch.”
105. Troy Brown’s two-way stardom.

104. “Hey, ump, you’re missing a great game!”
103. Ime Udoka’s commitment to defense.

102. Soccer moms.
101. Michael Johnson’s golden shoes.
100. Pedro’s precision.

99. Shirts and skins.
98. “The Iceman.”
97. 17-0 in ’72.
96. Winners and losers. Not participation plaques.
95. Yellow cards, yellow flags and the yellow first-down line.
94. Teddy Ballgame, .406 in 1941.

93. 56-game hitting streak.
92. “Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk!”
91. Mulligans.
90. “You Cannot Be Serious!” and “Practice? We talkin’ ’bout practice?!”
89. J.J. Watt, American hero.
88. Skip Bayless, permanently muted.
87. The two-minute warning.
86. Malcolm Butler, saving Super Sunday.

85. The Laker Girls and the Cowboys Cheerleaders.
84. Ryder Cup vs. Davis Cup vs. Stanley Cup.
83. “GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL!!!!”
82. Seeing your breath on a small-town Friday night in December, population
314.
81. Floyd “Money” Mayweather.
80. Ray Bourque and Phil Esposito.

79. “Phi Slamma Jamma.”
78. 6-4-3.
77. Doug Flutie at Chestnut Hill. Mac Jones at Gillette Stadium.

76. Montana to Rice. Stockton to Malone. Meredith to Cosell.

75. GEICO commercials.
74. “You are looking live … !”
73. Joe Torre’s stare, Steve Nash’s hair and the Golden Bear.
72. “Sweetness.”
71. Phyllis George and Erin Andrews.
70. “And one!”
69. Bull Durham.
68. “Pig-soooooiiiieee!”
67. Charlie Hustle. And Uncle Charlie.
66. The Aggie War Hymn vs. Texas Fight.
65. Cold dreary Sunday. Warm comfy couch. Big screen TV.
64. John Hannah.

63. Christian Laettner’s turnaround.
62. Tuck Rule.

61. Steph’s Warriors dynasty vs. Jordan’s Bulls dynasty.

60. “The Curse of the Bambino.”
59. The Swamp, The Pit and The Big House.
58. Cal Ripken Jr. and Dale Earnhardt Sr.
57. Evel Knievel.
56. Wilt’s 100 points vs. Russell’s 11 rings.
55. Rice and Lynn.

54. Eight seconds. And Title IX.
53. Sudden death.
52. Churchill Downs, first Saturday in May.
51. Madison Square Garden.
50. Mixed doubles, stand-up doubles and triple-doubles.
49. $1 billion stadiums. $12-an-hour chain gangs.
48. Fever Pitch.

47. Bear Bryant.
46. Mississippi State’s cowbells, Atlanta’s Tomahawk Chop.
and Pittsburgh’s Terrible Towels.
45. Rocky, Rudy and Prefontaine.
44. Larry Legend.
43. Byron Nelson’s legacy, on and off the course.
42. Jackie Robinson.

41. Dr. J.
40. Mark Cuban’s passion. And wallet.
39. Michael Jordan and The Last Dance.
38. Strike zone, matchup zone and zone blitz.
37. Luka Doncic, s-l-o-w motion superstar.

36. Wrigley’s ivy.
35. “Showtime.”
34. Sha-sheff-ski, spelled K-r-z-y-z-e-w-s-k-i.
33. The Babes. Ruth and Didrikson Zaharias. Sorry, Laufenberg.
32. U.S. soccer, women’s version.
31. 73*.
30. The Fat Lady. And the skinny post.
29. The parquet floor.

28. 86-year curse, kaput.

27. Larry Brown, from 12th-round afterthought to Cowboys’ Super Bowl MVP.

26. The Boston Marathon.

25. Nacho cheese on your chin. Smile on your lips.
24. Fresh batteries in the remote control.
23. Charles Barkley.
22. Keith Jackson’s “Whoa, Nellie!” and Dick Enberg’s “Oh, my!”
21. The 7-10 split.
20. Jayson Tatum’s room for improvement.

19. Falcons 28, Patriots 3.

18. LeBron James, indeed “The Chosen One.”
17. ESPN’s SportsCenter. TNT’s Inside The NBA and HBO’s Real Sports.
16. John Madden, RIP.
15. Magic.
14. The checkered flag.
13. Pat Summerall, Chick Hearn and Vin Scully.
12. The bell, the buzzer, the horn, the gun and, especially, the organ.
11. College NILs spawning Nick Saban vs. Jimbo Fisher. And USC-UCLA in the … Big Ten?

10. Tom Landry’s fedora.
9. Ty Law, shutdown.

8. Hoosiers.
7. High-fiving a complete stranger.

6. Boston braggadocio: 17 NBA banners, nine World Series trophies, six Super Bowl rings and six Stanley Cups.

5. Game. Seven.
4. “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!!”
3. And with the 199th overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, the Patriots select …

2. Our national anthem, before every single game. Kneeling or not.
1. The freedom to love the Patriots, and hate “America’s Team.”