It seems like everyone is busy sifting through lists: Santa questioning naughty vs. nice, Elin Woods examining her husband Tiger’s log of phone calls and me working through a list of headlines, separating the important stories from the frivolous ones in the world of sports. Here are a few of the most memorable DFW mile markers of 2009, along with a peak ahead.
Say hello to the Cowboys new stadium: The biggest story of the year in DFW was also the biggest sports story of the year as Cowboys owner Jerry Jones officially opened his grand all-purpose venue to much fanfare … and mixed reviews. The game atmosphere is pure, unadulterated sensory overload and you can’t help but think about how cool it would’ve been to have the stadium in Fair Park (thanks Laura Miller!).
While the entertainment factor ranks high, the actual game loses some of its "football feel" amid the enormity. That may change as fans get used to the complex, but what will never change is how jarring it is to look up and discover your face on the 10-story high HDTV that hangs from the ceiling. Think about Botox before you head over to Arlington.
With everything from concerts to college football games and with the NBA All-Star Game in 2010, the Super Bowl in 2011 and the NCAA Final Four in 2014 on the schedule, the new stadium guarantees to be a major economic driver for all of North Texas but specifically for Arlington. Did I forget to thank Laura Miller?
Saying goodbye (or good riddance): Lighting rod Terrell Owens’ tenure as a Dallas Cowboy came to an abrupt end this year when Jerry Jones’ son and Cowboys COO Stephen finally convinced his dad that Terrell’s "me first" attitude was tearing the team apart. Owens’ team-destroying antics were too much for every team except the lowly Buffalo Bills to take a chance on. And so, one of the NFL’s greatest receivers and even worse teammates was forced to take his show to Buffalo and Jerry was reminded that sometimes the team chemistry equation is solved by subtraction.
Not home for the holidays: The last time SMU played in a bowl game, Ronald Reagan was President and George Michael only seemed gay by singing in a group called Wham! That year was 1984 and SMU football boosters were handing out truckloads of cash to entice the best high schoolers in the nation to play in Dallas.
The Mustangs have struggled ever since the NCAA shut down the program for two years in wake of the most egregious recruiting violations in NCAA history. Yet under head coach Junes Jones, the Ponies, who won just two games in the last two years combined, won six games in 2009. The revival of what was once one of the nation’s most storied and tarnished programs is back on track.
Oh so close: TCU was just a couple of seconds away from playing for what may have been national championship. The Horned Frogs fought all year to overcome perceptions that they were not on the same level of other big-time football programs, but with their continued success many are starting to catch on that TCU is a big-time football program.
When compared to the amount of media attention his SEC and Big 12 counterparts receive, TCU head coach Gary Patterson toils away in near obscurity and that’s just the way he likes it.
Biggest surprise: It’s hilarious when the Texas Rangers answer the phones "first-place Texas Rangers" three games into a 162-game schedule, but unlike previous seasons, the greeting became the norm through the dog days as the Rangers kept themselves in playoff contention until the final two weeks of the season.
DALLAS GAY SPORTS LEAGUES: HIGHLIGHTS OF 2009
Pegasus Slowpitch Softball Association — 26 teams competed in three divisions during the 2009 season. PSSA sent six teams to the 33rd Annual Gay Softball World Series in Milwaukee and the Annual Beat-the-Heat tournament hosted by PSSA drew 36 teams to Dallas over the July 4 weekend.
Dallas Independent Volleyball Association — Five division champions were crowned in the fall as 40 teams and more than 260 players competed. Spring registration is currently underway at DivaDallas.org
Oak Lawn Tennis Association — 2009 marked the 30th year of OLTA and the boys from the lawn captured the Texas Cup (the annual team competition between OLTA, Austin Tennis Club and Houston Tennis Club).
Texas Gay Rodeo Association — At the International Gay Rodeo Association World Gay Rodeo Finals in October, Wade Earp, Roger Peterson and Dan Nagel placed and won several events. Earp returned as the top rider in the bronc riding event and took home the championship buckle.
— Ricky Bradley
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 01, 2010.