A tribute to one of the all time greats on an anniversary.
Sports and video games often seem like they don’t go together. That often those that play video games don’t watch sports. Conversely those that play sports don’t have time to play video games.
Though the perfect match is sports video games. Taking time to play as your favorite NFL, or NHL stars in virtual form can be a lot of fun. I was quite the fan of NHL 01 when I first got my PlayStation two for Christmas in 2001.
Most of my gaming was and still is done on my computer. It was one title in particular that was the reason for this. It had numerous forms that I would pick up and play depending on what I was feeling that day, or time of year. It was the Backyard Sports series.
The most well-known of these titles is baseball. It fact it just turned 20 years old the other day. You can read all about it here.
I too would love to give a shutout to the games that shaped my future career path the most. These games even a bit to this day are put into a cd room drive and hoped that they work so that I can practice announcing.
The first game I played in the series was baseball back in 1997. This was the original version with no pro athletes as kids. I remember playing with the easy ball and not being very good.
I picked the Bombers as my team name and a bunch of random kids, including the goat in Pablo Sanchez. They never won the championship. I later restarted as the Giants. This was a team that I stacked with better talent such, as Jocinda Smith, Keisha Phillips, Pete Wheeler and of course Sanchez. It was this team that would carry me to my first backyard sports title. I would then pick up the 2005 edition to replace it and it’s still my favorite of all the backyard games.
I then remember getting backyard football 2002. There I took a Pittsburgh Steelers team of almost all quarterbacks and won it all, multiple times. I then switched to a more accurate team with actual position players and continued to win big.
Backyard Soccer then came into the mix in 2004. There I got my first taste of MLS. It was a fun game, but just not my favorite. Though It would be my pick for most challenging as you had to win your way through three divisions like in real soccer to even have a shot at the championship title.
Next to the mix was basketball and hockey. Both equally as fun. In fact, basketball is the one I played most recently.
Then finally we have skateboarding. Overall this maybe the worst of the main series games. They only made one of this game. It was on the trickier side if I recall. You had to remember some button combinations for each trick. Some of which could be rather long. I haven’t beaten this title yet in fact. I got through to the medieval level’s final boss and it keeps beating me. Still pretty fun though.
Now why this game is so useful. I like to use it as a broadcast practice tool. Even before I knew I wanted to study broadcasting I would do play by play during each game. It didn’t matter the sport, nor the team, or even time of day. Yes, I was told to quiet down after announcing games at midnight, or later.
It didn’t matter to me though, it was always fun. Weather it was a big run by Pablo Sanchez, or routine ground out back to the mound for Dontrelle Willis to Carlos Delgado each play was done best I could. Often in a very informal style, but best I could.
After I learned a bit more of theory I would try to apply it to each game. Though it was a bit tougher at times. Three on three hoops aren’t five on five. The in-game power ups don’t have real world applications, even if they are fun to use. Yet it was still a chance to get experience even if just for fun and myself.
Overall, I just think this game has contributed greatly to my passion for sports. Didn’t matter if I was just a pick-up game, or the last game of the Astonishingly Shiny cup of all cups tournament. I was immersed in a game and it meant something to me. It was a chance to chase the passion, to dream my future dream. Even if it was just for 4 minutes of entertainment.
Sadly, most of my editions no longer work from trying to download on multiple computers. Also, doesn’t help that even if you find a disk it’s either expensive, or you don’t have a disk drive on a laptop.
Yet the legacy lives on. It lives on in my heart and mind as I remember those hours spent drafting, practicing and playing around. Winning games by absurd margins using strategy that would never work in real life. It instilled in me that passion for sports that is just as present today as it was back in 1999. Here’s to a great game celebrating a fantastic run.