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Opinion
Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

The Braves won it all. Wake Forest might. There's hope for your team, too

Atlanta Braves sign
Clayton Malquist
/
Unsplash
The Atlanta Braves defeated the Houston Astros to win the World Series.

Here’s a thing that might not feel possible now, but it’s true: The Carolina Panthers are going to win the Super Bowl. Not this year, but someday.

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The Charlotte Hornets? They’re going to take the NBA crown one day, too.

I don’t know either of those things for a fact, of course. But here’s what I do know: The Atlanta Braves, the team I’ve rooted for since I was a boy, the team most of the South roots for, won the World Series last week.

The Braves have won just one other title in my lifetime — back in 1995. That’s a generation ago. Some of y’all listening to this weren’t born yet.

I’ve often wondered what it must be like to root for the New England Patriots, or the L.A. Lakers, or one of those other teams that collect so many championship rings they need a shoebox to store them all. A gold-plated shoebox, probably.

Our two major professional teams here in Charlotte have not blessed us with a title yet. The Panthers have come close, making it to two Super Bowls, and losing one of them on a last-second field goal to … yes, the Patriots.

The Hornets — and their weird, brief alter ego, the Bobcats — haven’t really come close. They’ve never made it past the second round of the NBA playoffs, meaning they’ve never advanced to the NBA version of the Final Four.

One thing sports teaches you pretty quick is that not everybody gets to be the best. If the only thing that matters is first place, you can burn out in a hurry. You have to find other pleasures in the games. A big win over a rival. A young player getting better over time. Even just a warm basketball arena on a cold December night.

And every so often, if you stick with your team, they’ll have a golden year.

This year, in college football, one of the golden teams is Wake Forest. Last week, Wake moved into the top 10 in the country in the Associated Press poll. They’ve been playing football since 1908, and it’s the first time they’ve ever cracked the top 10.

Will they win the national title? Well, I hope not, because my favorite college team, the Georgia Bulldogs, are currently ranked no. 1. But for the first time in forever, the Demon Deacons have got a shot. And for most of us, in most of our lives, that’s all we can ask for. A shot.

My old newspaper colleague Lew Powell once said a sure sign of adulthood is the ability to accept delayed gratification. I’d just add that there’s nothing sweeter than the moment when that delay is finally gratified.

A couple of minutes ago, I said the Panthers will win the Super Bowl some year, just not this year. But I should also say this: At the halfway point of this year’s baseball season, the Atlanta Braves had a losing record.

That was in July. Now it’s November, and my Braves 2021 World Champions T-shirt is in the mail.

Don’t give up on the Panthers — or any of your teams — just yet.

Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column runs Mondays on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.

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