Texas Sports a Passionate Rooting Interest
San Antionio Spurs in Texas
Sports are a huge draw for tourism and community spirit.
The lights in Texas might shine brightest on Friday nights, but the passion for sports in the Lone Star State extends far beyond its famous high school football fields.
Baseball, basketball, golf, auto racing and even hockey have enthusiastic followings, making the state a mecca for all manner of sports fans.
It is football, however, that stirs the greatest passion deep within the heart of Texans. The NFL’s Dallas Cowboys are so popular they are known as America’s Team. Dozens of college football teams, led by the University of Texas Longhorns, have devoted fan bases that flock to stadiums on Saturdays in the fall. Schools including Texas A&M University, Baylor and Texas Christian University also have standout football programs.
But perhaps the purest form of football fervor can be found on the high school level, a long-standing Texas tradition made famous by the Friday Night Lights book, movie and television show.
“When you think about Texas, one of the first things that comes to mind is Friday night high school football,” says Brian Brazil, head football coach at Hebron High School in Carrollton and president of the Texas High School Coaches Association. “It’s something that brings the community together. It’s not just about the football. It’s a social gathering. It’s a way of developing a lot of unity within your school and within your town.”
While the social aspect of these games accounts for part of their popularity, the main attraction remains the quality of play on the field. Brazil says Texas high schools produce more than 300 Division I college football players every year. More than 180 Texas natives played in the NFL in 2011, second only to California.
“You have a bunch of kids who grew up together and made sacrifices to be able to play on that high school football team,” Brazil says. “It’s special to be part of something where kids and the community as a whole come together like that and get excited about what’s taking place on Friday nights.”
More Than Just Football
But Texas is a state for all sporting seasons. The state's three NBA teams – the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs – have combined to win seven championships since 1994, including the Mavs title run in the 2010-11 season.
The state’s two major league baseball teams (the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers) have combined to make the World Series three times in the past seven years, including back-to-back appearances by the Rangers in 2010 and 2011.
And even though Texas is not known for its icy conditions, the NHL’s Dallas Stars have entertained hockey fans since 1993, winning the Stanley Cup championship in 1999. In addition, Dallas and Houston have teams competing in the growing sport of Major League Soccer.
Auto racing and golf also are extremely popular in Texas. The NASCAR Series makes two stops each year at Texas Motor Speedway, a sprawling facility near Fort Worth that has nearly 160,000 seats and an infield that can accommodate approximately 53,000 more people. The IndyCar Series also holds an annual event at TMS. And in November 2012, the high-tech Formula One racing series returns to the United States for the first time in six years with the running of the 2012 U.S. Grand Prix at the new Circuit of the Americas in Austin.
As for golf, the state that produced legends such as Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and Lee Trevino currently plays host to four PGA Tour events each year, as well as two tournaments on the Champions Tour (for golfers age 50 and older).
Basically, if there is a sport to be played, it is taking place in Texas. Because in this state, even when the Friday night lights are turned off, the love of sports continues to glow.