Double Teamed: D.C., a capital for sports?

August 26, 2011

Washington D.C. is one of the best places in the country for a sports fan. It is one of only twelve cities in the United States that is home to a pro sports team in each of the four major sports. Even if our nation’s capital hasn’t seen a championship since Joe Gibbs’s Redskins in 1991, the Capitals, Wizards, Nationals, and Redskins provide a lot of buzz in the city, year round.

But the city’s sports scene runs much deeper than its four major teams, boasting numerous amateur and charity events with world-class talent.

Last Saturday some of the NBA’s brightest young stars lit up the Trinity University Gym in Northeast D.C. The intimate setting hosted two of the country’s most celebrated summer league teams—the Goodman League and the Drew League—in a matchup dubbed “Capital Punishment.” Kevin Durant and John Wall led the Goodman team, which represented the East Coast, while NBA up-and-comers James Harden and Brandon Jennings laced their sneakers up for the Drew League, L.A.’s 38 year-old summer league. Joining their colleagues were DeMarcus Cousins, DeMar DeRozan, Gary Neal, Ty Lawson, Javelle McGee, and Josh Selby. The basketball hungry sell-out crowd of over 1,500 was treated to a highlight-filled, trash-talking exhibition that ended with Durant making two go-ahead free-throws with eight seconds left. Even though there were no playoff implications or contract incentives on the line, pure pride and competitiveness saw the back-and-forth game go down to the buzzer.  That much talent hadn’t been on the hardwood together since last June’s NBA Finals and might not be on display for a while, depending on how the NBA lockout plays out.

But if the lockout lasts a while, expect to see some pros around the District. Former Georgetown center Roy Hibbert has even said he will be working out with the Hoyas if NBA commissioner David Stern and players’ union head Billy Hunter can’t reach a compromise, which isn’t looking likely. Besides having Hibbert walking around the Hilltop, other NBA players like Durant might make impromptu visits home to the basketball-rich D.C. area.

If basketball isn’t your cup of tea, and you seek some first rate college football, FedEx Field will play host to some of the oldest college football programs in the country. On Nov 12, revamped No. 16 Notre Dame will face Maryland in a mid-season battle. Much of the Irish population in D.C. will pack the stadium to root for the “home” team.  Later on Dec 10, FedEx Field will host one of the great traditions in sports, the annual Army-Navy game. While the game almost certainly won’t have any BCS Championship implications, it is a sight to see for any sports fan.

For fans more familiar with fútbol than football, D.C. United are in the MLS playoff hunt and boast some of the top talents in the U.S. domestic league. Sitting among the loyal supporters of one the nation’s most successful clubs will bring out the inner soccer hooligan in anyone.

These are only a few of the opportunities that the District offers. Just because you can’t afford seats behind home plate at Nationals Park doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the diverse D.C. sports scene. And if it does, you’re probably just not trying hard enough.

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