17 of ’21: National Championship

In a different year and stage of my life, there’s no way this would have fallen out of the top three things of my year. But my sports fandom has evolved over the years, due in part to scandals, perspective, and amount of time I have to give.

Even so, the Baylor Men’s Basketball National Championship team was something special. I’m still a cynic at heart, so the evangelical fervor surrounding Scott Drew’s team can be off-putting. (If Jesus gave us the 2021 title, then he also gave Bobby Knight his titles.) But I’m also a softy, and there was something, ummmm, joyful about this team.

Most notable for me: When he was a freshman, point guard Jared Butler helped me out with a school breakfast event on a local campus. No one knew what a superstar he would be, but he was still the student-athlete present who represented the most high-profile sport, so the task of speaking to the kids about the importance of nutrition fell to him. I don’t usually expect much in this area from students, and especially freshmen, but he took the microphone and was electric. I thought about that moment every game he played, and may have shed a tear thinking about it as he cut down the net in Indianapolis.

I can overlook a little sappiness from time to time.

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