HARRIS COUNTY - HSA INSIDER

A weekly look at all things Houston sports from the Harris County - Houston Sports Authority

Harris County - Houston Sports Authority will provide weekly updates. Harris County - Houston Sports Authority

The Harris County - Houston Sports Authority Insider will take you inside Houston Sports each Friday because #WeAreHoustonSports! Check out the website here.

You didn’t dream it. Yet those images keep popping up in your mind, right?

You hear the bats crack and replay Jose Altuve’s home run followed by another monumental homer from Carlos Correa. The exclamation point from George Springer. Justin Verlander’s fierce focus from the mound, then his cheerleading as he kept peeking around the dugout corner.

Those Houston Astros body-bumping and playing with that infectious joy usually reserved for kids on a sandlot on a summer day. Only this time it was an epic 7-6, 11-inning Game 2 World Series win over the Dodgers. In LA.

Great moments, all. But what about Alex Bregman’s perfect throw home in Game 7 against the Yankees? Those high-flying Altuve-Correa hugs?

Dare you to pick your one favorite Astros moment so far. Tough, right?

Now think about rookie DeShaun Watson working his magic with the Texans’ offense, the incredible chemistry between Chris Paul and James Harden which has the Rockets off to a great start, the playoff excitement from the Dynamo in the playoffs and, well,  just try to come up with the single greatest moment of 2017 in Houston Sports, period. And don’t forget there are still more moments to come.

All that said, this your invitation to start thinking about athletes and moments you would nominate for the inaugural Houston Sports Awards on Feb. 8, 2018.

The Harris County – Houston Sports Authority will be celebrating the best in Houston sports that night with a red-carpet event at the Hilton-Americas. There are 10 categories -- everything from three Athletes of the Year (Pro/Olympian, College and High School) to Moment of the Year and Sportsmanship Award and more -- and you can nominate at www.HoustonSportsAwards.com.

You have until Dec. 1 to submit your choices, so take a look at the categories on the website and start thinking – or submitting -- now.

* * * *

Robin Burke didn’t hesitate.

When the Vice President of Champions Golf Club was scrolling down her Facebook page last month and saw that the United States Golf Association was going to have to postpone its 2017 Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship due to damage to Quail Creek Country Club Naples, Fla., from Hurricane Irma, she shot a friend a message:

“Hey, bring it to Texas. We survived Hurricane Harvey with minimal damage. We’ll host it.”

Within 24 hours, Burke and the USGA were talking about possible dates and the Women’s Mid-Am was on the way to Champions where 132 of the best women amateurs over the age of 25 will tee it up Nov. 11-16. The winner gets a spot in the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open.

It’s a trial run, of sorts, for the storied course, which will host the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open. Champions also held the 1967 Ryder Cup, the 1969 U.S. Open, four TOUR Championships, the Houston Champions International from 1966-1971 and was the site of Ben Hogan’s final round in 1971.

“So here we are,’’ Burke said, “about to pull off something that takes two years to plan in less than two months.’’

Burke, the wife of Hall of Famer Jack Burke, Jr., wouldn’t have it any other way. The 2016 Curtis Cup captain has played in 23 Mid-Ams, advancing to the semifinals first in 1998, when it was held at Champions, then again in 2005 and 2010. This year, she didn’t try to qualify. Looking back, she wishes she had.

Things have fallen into place quickly. Burke was so confident in Champions’ golf course superintendent and team that she knew they would be able to get the layout in championship condition in no time. That done, she turned her attention to finding a chairman and called friend Alli Jarrett, owner of Harold’s Restaurant & Tap Room and former USGA Regional Affairs director.

“She told me she’d have to think about it,’’ Burke said, “She called me back in 20 minutes and said, ‘I can’t stand it, I’m in.’ ‘’

The 2017 field features nine former Mid-Am champs including four-time champ Meghan Stasi.

If you’d like to volunteer, go to

http://www.txga.org/form.php?id=2017-US-Womens-MidAmateur-Volun. Admission to the event is free.

* * * *

The World Corporate Games, where weekend athletes, businesses and corporations from around the world come together to compete on multiple levels for two days in 15 different sports, is coming to Houston November 17-19.

More than 1,000 entrants from nine different countries will compete in everything from badminton to beach volleyball, bowling and dragon boat racing. The event includes a Health & Wellness Expo at the Marriott Marquis and today is the last day to sign up a team for everything but running at www.wcghouston.com. The running deadline has been extended to Nov. 10. The site also has volunteer opportunities.

* * * *

Houston isn’t just one of 32 cities contending for a chance to host matches for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The nation’s fourth-largest city will also host a meeting with the United Bid Committee Nov. 14-17 with the other 31 cities bidding for potential spots should the U.S.-Canada-Mexico group be chosen to host the 2026 event.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
Everyone should be talking about the Cougars! Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images.

You’re burying the lead!

Lately I’ve been watching our local news … “and now here’s (fill in the blank) with sports.”

“Over at Toyota Center, the Rockets came up short and dropped another one to the Jazz or maybe it was the Pelicans or … does it really matter?”

It doesn’t matter. The Rockets have lost 10 games in a row, 15 of their last 16, and they’re in last place in the Western Conference with the NBA’s worst record. They’re on track to finish with an even worse record than last year, when they also had the worst record in the league. Their last three losses were all blowouts, dropping each game by 20-plus points. They’re terrible and getting terrible-er.

Meanwhile in the shadow of downtown there’s another basketball team with “Houston” on the front of their jerseys. That team is a different story, and it should be the lead story.

The University of Houston is 17-1, undefeated in the American Athletic Conference, riding an eight-game win streak, ranked No. 1 in the country and the betting favorite (+550 at Fanduel) to make the Final Four and win the whole March Madness tournament. That’s No. 1 ahead of Kansas, Duke, North Carolina and all the other traditional college powerhouses. The NCAA title clash essentially could be a home game for the Cougars on April 3 at NRG Stadium in Houston.

It all ties into a neat little bow for coach Kelvin Sampson and the red-hot Coogs.

And here’s another reason why the Cougars deserve our support and the sports section headline: every player on the UH team came here because they wanted to play for Houston. Rockets players are in Houston because that’s where they were drafted or traded, or in some cases because they couldn’t get a better deal with any other team.

UH players fell in love with Houston. Rockets players are in arranged marriages.

So why are the UH Cougars relegated to a mere mention before the sports anchor hands it off to the weatherman for a final update on tomorrow’s forecast?

It’s would be understandable why the Rockets hold the media’s attention ahead of the Cougars if this were a typical big market. The pros are bigger, faster and better than college players. But this is Houston, where the local college team is No. 1 in the country and the pro team is dead last in the NBA.

Even if all things were equal, which they’re not, the UH story is more compelling than the Rockets’ tale of woe. UH has a personable, inspirational coach, Kelvin Sampson, one of the most successful figures in the college game. The Rockets coach, Stephen Silas, has a low-key personality and, not entirely his fault, one of the most futile won-loss records in NBA history.

UH has a legit superstar, Marcus Sasser, a first-team All-American pick, a team leader who’s playing in his final season for the Cougars. The Rockets’ top veteran is Eric Gordon, a sourpuss who wants off the team in the worst way and the Rockets are trying their best to accommodate him.

UH is on track to make a lot of noise on the road to the Final Four, like they’ve done six times, the most recent in 2021. UH holds the frustrating record for most Final Four appearances without a championship trophy. Another good storyline. This could be their year, and what better place than their own backyard at NRG Stadium?

It’s not like the Rockets have a serious shot at the NBA Finals, but apples to apples, the NCAA tournament is a bigger deal than the NBA playoffs.

March Madness charges more for TV commercials than any sports event in the U.S. with the exception of the NFL playoffs. March Madness brought in $1 billion in ad revenue in 2021, more than the NBA playoffs and double MLB’s postseason.

Last year’s March Madness championship game had 18.1 million viewers. Last year’s championship game of the NBA Finals drew just under 14 million viewers.

It’s estimated that some 35 million Americans will fill out a bracket for March Madness contests. I’ve never worked in an office where everybody puts down $5 to buy a square in a pool for the NBA Finals. I know a guy who scheduled his vasectomy for the start of March Madness figuring he was due some serious couch time.

March Madness is a national passion. The NBA Finals are a sports event.

Bottom line: the Cougars are the No. 1 team in college hoops, and they’re taking aim at the biggest, most celebrated prize in basketball. They are the pride of our city. So let’s give the UH Cougars the respect they deserve. Give ‘em the top story.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome