SPORTS & RECREATION
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Championships Are Just The Beginning

No state likes to play, compete & win more than Texas.

SPORTS & RECREATION
Globe Life Field in Arlington hosts the Major League Baseball World Series champions, the Texas Rangers.
Photos courtesy of the Texas Rangers

by Ron Starner
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hen the Texas Rangers won the Major League Baseball World Series last fall, sports fans worldwide got a glimpse of what it means to compete for titles in the Lone Star State.

That is why legendary UCLA football coach Red Sanders once famously said, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.”

In Texas, winning on the athletic field is second nature. Some of the greatest dynasties in sports history hail from Texas. From the Roger Staubach- and Troy Aikman-led Dallas Cowboys to the Tim Duncan- and Kawhi Leonard-led San Antonio Spurs, winning championships is ingrained into the DNA of Texas sports teams. 

Just think of the many legends who have brought titles home to the Lone Star State: Dirk Nowitzki draining his trademark fall-away jumpers while leading the Dallas Mavericks to the NBA Championship; Derian Hatcher captaining the Dallas Stars to the Stanley Cup; Justin Verlander pitching the Houston Astros to the World Series title; Hakeem Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets dominating the paint on the way to lifting the NBA trophy above his head; Vince Young scampering into the end zone to lead the Texas Longhorns to an NCAA football title over the USC Trojans in the final seconds; the Houston Dynamo winning back-to-back Major League Soccer championships; and many, many more.

Let’s not forget the greatest Texas athlete of all time: Babe Didrikson Zaharias. Named by Sports Illustrated as the No. 1 Texas sports star in history, she won five events at the 1932 AAU track and field championships and two weeks later won two Olympic gold medals. She also won the 1947 British Amateur Golf Championship and 31 professional golf tournaments.

Other legendary names in Texas sports history include Sheryl Swoopes, Mia Hamm, Nolan Ryan, Ben Hogan, Lee Trevino, Jack Johnson, Doak Walker, Rogers Hornsby, Sammy Baugh, Byron Nelson, Ernie Banks, George Foreman and Tom Landry.

How Houston Changed Hoops

No one more personifies Texas, though, than the Phi Slama Jama team of the Houston Cougars from 1982 to 1984. Reaching the NCAA men’s basketball championship game three straight years, this Guy Lewis-coached team of Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and Michael Young did not just dominate college basketball. It changed the game forever.

Mostly a plodding game focused on dribbling, passing and set plays, basketball under Lewis became a showcase of athleticism, full-court fast breaks and the greatest highlight of all: the slam dunk. After Phi Slama Jama, basketball was never the same sport again. It became an international phenomenon that catapulted athletes like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Patrick Ewing, Tim Duncan and David Robinson into the stratosphere of celebrity and influence.

GLF---ExteriorA statue of Hall-of-Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan stands outside Globe Life Field.

Texas has been doing that for a long time. That is one reason even its sports venues are bigger, better and grander than others. From Globe Life Field in Arlington to its next-door neighbor, AT&T Stadium, Texas boasts arenas that redefine the spectator experience. 

Nearby Frisco built an entire city that embraces the joy of sport. Home to FC Dallas of Major League Soccer, this north Dallas suburb of 236,432 people recently lured the headquarters of the PGA of America and will soon host the PGA Championship on a new course. More than $10 billion of industrial development came to Frisco over the past decade, anchored by the gleaming headquarters and training facilities of the Dallas Cowboys.

I had the opportunity to tour this 91-acre complex, known as The Star in Frisco, when it was being built in 2015. Today, it includes the Ford Center — a state-of-the-art, 510,000-sq.-ft. indoor athletic facility shared by the Cowboys, the City of Frisco and the high schools of the Frisco Independent School District.

Cowboys President Stephen Jones, son of team owner Jerry Jones, gave my colleague Charles Fitzgibbon and me the grand tour. As he described the vision of his father and the city, Stephen talked at length about how the Cowboys’ collective desire to change pro sports coalesced with the hopes and dreams of then-upstart Frisco.

Youth Sports Find a Nurturing Home

We heard much the same when we spent time with Clark and Dan Hunt, owners of FC Dallas of Major League Soccer and the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. Like the Jones family, the Hunts believe in being the best in the business while ensuring that everyone in the community benefits from this investment into building a winner.

That is why both organizations invest so much into youth sports and the facilities that nurture young athletes. It is part of their mission.

Look around Texas and you’ll see this happening in every corner of the state. From the Frisco RoughRiders minor league baseball team to Corpus Christi FC in United Soccer League Two, the rising athletes of today are being molded into the superstars of tomorrow. From cricket and disc golf to pickle ball and triathlons, Texas is a greenhouse growing future champions.

The new catchphrase of Texas should be: “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the start of something much better.” 

Ron Starner
Executive Vice President of Conway, Inc.

Ron Starner

Ron Starner is Executive Vice President of Conway Data, Inc. He has been with Conway Data for 22 years and serves as a writer and editor for both Site Selection and the company's Custom Content publishing division. His Twitter handle is @RonStarner.

  





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