If you’re like me, you have probably never found yourself thinking about sports. You may, in fact, be wondering why you still have to hear the unnecessarily loud sounds of a sports game emanating from your family’s television when seasons have been suspended due to COVID-19.
“What is the point of watching an old game?” I, a person who watches the same movies over and over again, ask myself.
It’s hard to deny that playing professional sports requires a lot of discipline and talent, but I think one of the coolest things about sports is how they build a sense of community among fans. If you need evidence, just look at how the sports section of Twitter is still updating regularly and NBA players are doing things like virtually playing HORSE.
Of course, none of this is limited to professional sports. Collegiate sports offer the same sense of community, and maybe moreso since you get to cheer on your peers. For all of you new Golden Bears and my fellow “What is a tight end?” people, I encourage you to try out this school spirit thing once the games (are allowed to) begin.
Swim and dive
If you want to get into a sport that Cal consistently manages to snag a win in, then swim and dive is a good one to watch. This season, Cal men’s swim and dive won its seventh Pac-12 title and has consistently finished at or near the top of the NCAA Championships for a decade.
Likewise, Cal women’s swim and dive is also impressive. These Bears have won the NCAA Championships title four times since 2009 and placed second in the Pac-12 Championships for as many times consecutively as there are “Twilight” books. On top of that, many of the Bears set career-highs this season, such as senior Abbey Weitzeil, who became the first woman to swim under 21 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle.
Some people love the sound of shoes on a gym floor; for others, it sets their teeth on edge. While I belong to the latter group, basketball is still one of the faster-paced sports, and Cal basketball’s men’s and women’s teams have shown promise as of late.
In the past nine years, the women’s team made it to the NCAA tournament more often than not, even though this season was not full to the brim with wins. It is, however, important to remember the team had only a few veteran players and was under the lead of a new coach, Charmin Smith. Thus, the Bears were focused on growth and rebuilding this season.
Similarly, Cal men’s basketball had a promising 2019-20 season under the leadership of new head coach Mark Fox, despite its rough standings in previous years.
While the women’s team didn’t make it to the NCAA tournament this year, the men’s team had a chance, however small, for a Pac-12 Cinderella run if the championships weren’t canceled because of COVID-19. Either way, the Daily Cal sports department predicts future success for both teams as the Bears build up their strengths together. It essentially could be the plot of a memorable Disney Channel original movie about a budding team, so now is the perfect time to tune in.
Many Cal football fans will tell you that watching the Bears on the field can be painful.
It’s no secret that Cal didn’t beat Stanford for years on end, and seeing the Bears end their winning streak early on in the season once injury after injury struck the team — including that of quarterback Chase Garbers — was heartbreaking for many blue and gold fans, diehard or not. But Garbers recovered from his injury, and the Bears pulled together to win the Big Game and take back the Axe from the Cardinal. After this, Cal won a bowl game for the first time in years, leaving some fans optimistic about next season. In other words, it’s a great time to hop on the bandwagon.
Moreover, it is hard to think of a more stereotypical American college sport, so developing a love for football is a great way to have that hallmark college experience, especially when coupled with early morning game day parties.
Even if you don’t end up loving any of these sports, at least you can write home that you tried. Besides, after a pandemic, the ability to attend a game or meet may seem like an excitingly fun, oft-overlooked privilege. So, once our fellow Bears are able to compete again, I hope to see you in the stands!