Texas is a state with a rich sporting history. From the Longhorns to the Astros, Texas has produced some of the best athletes in the country.
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Texas is known for many things, but one thing that often goes overlooked is the state’s rich sports history. Texas has been home to some of the most iconic athletes and teams in American history, and the Lone Star State has produced its fair share of championship-winning squads.
From college football’s Texas Longhorns to Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros, Texas has a team for every major sport. And although the state doesn’t have an NHL or NBA franchise, it’s still home to some of the most passionate sports fans in the country.
Whether you’re a die-hard fan of one of Texas’s professional teams or you’re just interested in learning more about the state’s sports history, this guide is for you. We’ll take a closer look at some of the most popular Texas teams and athletes, as well as explore the unique role that sports play in Texas culture.
The Early Days: From the Longhorns to the Cowboys
The state of Texas has a long and storied history when it comes to sports. Some of the biggest and most iconic teams in all of professional sports hail from the Lone Star State, including the Dallas Cowboys, the Houston Astros, and the University of Texas Longhorns.
The history of sports in Texas dates all the way back to the early days of the state’s settlement by European colonists. Back then, the most popular sport was undoubtedly cricket, which was played by both British soldiers stationed in Texas and by early American settlers. Cricket continued to be popular in Texas throughout the 1800s, though it gradually began to lose ground to other sports like baseball and basketball.
In 1876, the very first professional baseball team was founded in Houston, making them one of the oldest pro teams in all of baseball. The team was originally known as the Houston Colt .45s, but they would eventually change their name to the Astros in 1965. The Astros would go on to have great success in the late 1960s and early 1970s, winning several division championships. But their greatest moment came in 2017, when they won their very first World Series title.
Another iconic Texas team is the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys are one of the most successful teams in NFL history, having won five Super Bowl titles since they were founded in 1960. They are also one of only two teams (the other beingthe Pittsburgh Steelers) to have appeared in more than ten Super Bowls. The Cowboys are beloved by fans all over the world, and their home stadium – AT&T Stadium – is one of the most impressive sporting venues anywhere on earth.
And then there are the University of Texas Longhorns. The Longhorns are one of college football’s most iconic programs and have been fiercely competitive for decades. They’ve won four national championships (in 1963, 1969, 1970, and 2005) and boast some of college football’s most passionate fans. They also have one of college football’s biggest rivalries with their cross-state rivals,the Baylor Bears.
The Lone Star State’s First Major League Team: The Houston Astros
In 1962, the Colt .45s became the Houston Astros, and playing in the newly built Colt Stadium, they became Texas’s first major league team. The Astros struggled in their early years, posting a record of only 65-97 in their inaugural season. But the young franchise soon found its footing, and by the mid-1960s, was regularly contending for a spot in the playoffs. The Astros’ first taste of postseason success came in 1980, when they won the National League West division title. Led by dominant pitcher Nolan Ryan, the Astros narrowly lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL Championship Series.
The San Antonio Spurs: Texas’ First NBA Champions
The San Antonio Spurs are an American professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas. The Spurs compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league’s Western Conference Southwest Division. The team plays its home games at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.
The Spurs are one of four former American Basketball Association (ABA) teams to remain intact in the NBA after the 1976 ABA–NBA merger and are the only former ABA team to have won an NBA championship. The franchise has won five NBA championships, which is tied for fourth-most in NBA history and behind only the Boston Celtics (17), Los Angeles Lakers (16), and Chicago Bulls (6). As of 2020, the Spurs have generated the sixth-highest winning percentage among all NBA teams since their founding.
The Dallas Mavericks: Texas’ Second NBA Champions
In the thirty-six years since the Mavericks joined the NBA, the team has gone through ups and downs, winning seasons and losing seasons. But in the 2010-2011 season, the Mavericks put everything together. Led by head coach Rick Carlisle and All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas went on an incredible run through the playoffs, defeating first the Portland Trail Blazers, then the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, and finally the Miami Heat in one of the most thrilling NBA Finals ever. With their 4-2 victory over Miami, the Mavericks brought a championship home to Texas for the first time since 1995, when the Houston Rockets won their second consecutive NBA title.
It is safe to say that sports are an important part of the history and culture of the state of Texas. For generations, Texans have taken pride in their sports teams and athletes, and the state has produced some of the best in the country. From high school football to professional baseball, basketball, and even hockey, Texas has a rich sports history that is worth celebrating.