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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

How great of a sports city is Tucson?

There are many different ways to get your sports journalism fix: Newspapers, Web sites and magazines are the most traditional.

I’m a magazine guy. A stack of about a dozen-and-a-half sports magazines consistently lives on a shelf in my personal library, which some condescending folks would refer to as the top of the toilet tank in the bathroom.

The newest magazine in the stack is the Sporting News I got in the mail this weekend. In the publication’s list of the 399 best sports cities, Tucson is listed at No. 59.

I nearly fell into the Kohler bowl I was perched on when I read that.

Fifty-nine? As in, top-60?

This has got to be way off. I didn’t think Tucson was that great a sports town at all, relatively speaking. And this is coming from someone who was born and raised in Tucson.

Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago/Evanston and Los Angeles made up the top five of the magazine’s best cities, respectively. New York was number 6 and Phoenix/Tempe was ranked No. 7.

But ranking Tucson No. 59 is like paying your gardener to only trim half the bushes and leave a divot in your lawn. It doesn’t make sense. And this is a better ranking than when the magazine tabbed Tucson No. 65 in 2000 and No. 75 last year, which would imply that it’s becoming a better sports city.

Right. And Barry Bonds is a lovable teddy bear.

The UA has the best there is to offer as far as sports goes in Tucson, no question. The problem, however, is that Arizona Athletics has some great, competing teams, but only the men’s basketball, football and softball teams really draw any outside interest, no matter how good the other varsity teams and athletes may be. How much did the UA swim teams’ national championships or Liz Patterson’s high jump national title last year do for the acknowledgment of sports in the city? Sadly, almost none.

Minor league baseball is dead, save for the independent Tucson Toros. The original Tucson Toros and Tucson Sidewinders triple-A teams are long gone.

The city doesn’t have any pro teams either, unless you count Major League Baseball teams, which have all decided to abandon the Old Pueblo faster than it took for Arizona Cardinals fans to jump on the bandwagon when the team went to the Super Bowl last winter. March will most likely be the final month of spring training in Tucson.

It’s hard to tell why Tucson is ranked where it is on the magazine’s list. Maybe it’s the boxing in casinos. Maybe it’s because the Harlem Globetrotters stop in town. Maybe it’s because Tiger Woods is the best thing to happen to Marana since its residents discovered the riding lawnmower.

Maybe Shaq was able to give the city a boost when he came to town last year and declared himself the black Michael Phelps just about a year before he raced the Olympic swimmer in the pool for a reality TV show.

I’m just not sure how credible Sporting News’ list is. After all, the magazine states that the 399th-best sports city is Auburn, N.Y., “”thanks to the Auburn Doubledays’ 26-49 season (and the fact that many cities and towns don’t even qualify for the list).”” Last time I checked a 26-49 record pretty much sucks.

So you threw Auburn, N.Y., on the tail end of the list because that’s where baseball’s supposed inventor grew up? Then what about Amonte, Ontario, Canada, where the creator of basketball, James Naismith, grew up? And how come New Britain, Conn., where the father of football, Walter Camp, was born is ranked No. 232?

The staff of Sporting News probably has its reasons for all of these questions, and kudos to them for coming up with a list of 399 cities and doing research on them all.

But next time, they should scope out Tucson a little better. This issue is going to the bottom of my magazine stack.

— Lance Madden is a journalism senior.

He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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