The Best Sports Stuff from Your Childhood

Matt King@TheRealMattKingFeatured ColumnistOctober 1, 2012

The Best Sports Stuff from Your Childhood

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    Everything was better when we were kids. We got summers off, you got to drink chocolate milk daily and there was no such thing as a Honey Boo Boo.

    Also, the sports stuff back then was awesome. This list will make you wish you were 10 years old again. Guaranteed.

    Take a trip with me down memory lane.

Dream Team Collector Cups

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    The Dream Team got some much deserved love with this being their 20 year anniversary and all, but nothing quite captures the joy of going to McDonald's and getting one of these cups.

    Unless it was a Laettner one. That's just cruel.

Big League Chew

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    Raise you hand if you didn't even know that Big League Chew was a takeoff of chewing tobacco. Or if you didn't even know what chewing tobacco was back then.

    This was just awesome because the gum had roughly 10 lbs of sugar per bag and was shredded so you could just stuff your mouth full with as much as you could handle.

Starter Jackets

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    Grantland already did a great job of explaining why this was the coolest piece of clothing you could own in the 90s.

    Seriously, though, they need to bring these back. I'd wear one in the winter in a heartbeat. And teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder deserve a brightly colored Starter jacket. 

The Vortex

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    As someone who never learned how to actually throw a spiral, the Vortex was a godsend. Then they added the whistle so you could feel even more superhuman when you threw one. It was perfection.

    The only downside was catching one of these bullets from your friends when they threw it 70 mph from 10 feet away.

American Gladiators

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    They tried to bring American Gladiators back, but nothing could ever match the wonderful awesomeness of the original.

    The hair, the names, the steroids, the tennis ball gun.

    I seriously loved the one with the tennis ball gun. I would pay $100 just for a DVD of every time they used the tennis ball gun.

Michael Jordan Cologne

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    You didn't even wear cologne, but you probably wanted this. It didn't even matter that it smelled like sweaty potpourri, you wore it.

    But probably only for like a week because you were a kid and got bored with that sort of thing quickly. Still, I feel like every kid in America owned this stuff at one point in time.

Playing as Bo Jackson in Tecmo Super Bowl

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    Tecmo Super Bowl was awesome in it's simplicity. Four running plays and four passing plays. What are you, Bill Belichick? That should be enough.

    Even better if you played with the Raiders, which everyone did because Bo Jackson was a freak of nature in that game.

Reebok Pumps

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    That pump could have done absolutely nothing and we still would have pumped the hell out of those things. Oh, wait, they really didn't do anything. But it sure was fun!

    The pumps are a combination of genius marketing and our desire as kids to want more and more little gadgets on everything we owned.

Wrestling Buddies

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    Dolls? No sir, these were not dolls. They were just about as manly as you could get.

    Who didn't want to beat the crap out of Hulk Hogan and Macho Man? You felt like a boss. This was back when kids knew how to pretend. You know, before the internet.

NBA on NBC Theme Song

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    Great theme song or the greatest theme song?

    Really, this is John Tesh's most important contribution to the world. 

These Folders

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    I have no idea what company made these, but they were by far the coolest thing I've ever seen. Still.


Starting Lineup Figures

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    These were by and far pretty useless, but damn if we didn't have a bunch of them lining our desks at home.

    Bonus points if you had one of skinny Shaq.

Being on Fire in NBA Jam

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    There's no better feeling in the entire world. It was as close as we could get to being invincible as kids.

    I love how the picture is of a player dunking, but anybody who knew anything was going to be bombing threes when you were on fire. Dunks were fun and all, but not as fun as rattling off 21 straight points against your little brother.


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    I don't care if the show hasn't been around for years, I still want to compete on GUTS. Let's pull Mike O'Malley off of Glee and get me a piece of that Agro Crag right now!

    I would have destroyed 95 percent of the kids on that show. I'm convinced. Remember that one where you got to bungee jump and dunk basketballs? I WANT THAT!

Trading Cards

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    Do kids still collect trading cards? I bet every single one has to be 3D to even hold their interest.

    I was all about the mid-90s cards back in the day, the smell of the cards as you got them out of the pack and how you would quickly flip through them to see if you got any special cards or good players. 

    The thing I'll always remember is learning about players I never knew existed, like Mark Eaton.

Lowered Basketball Rims

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    If you had these, or knew of somebody who had these, your childhood was changed for the awesome. I can't tell you how many dunk contests were held in my backyard.

    And I can probably assume there's not a lot funnier than watching 12-year-old me dunking on a 7-foot rim.

NFL Blitz

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    What was there not to love about this game? Jump passes, trick plays and, of course, the most devastating hits the world has ever seen.

    It was totally enjoyable in the pre-concussion era. Now it just seems wrong. But still, there was something about launching your player into the air way ahead of time and totally connecting on a hit.

Pro Stars

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    This was my favorite Saturday morning cartoon, bar none. It was terrible, but I didn't care.

    Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson and Wayne Gretzky as crime fighters? Shut up and take my money!

    I also love how they made Wayne the comic relief. Silly Canadian. 

Wall Stars

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    Before we had Fatheads, there were Wall Stars. I personally had a few of the Dream Team up on my wall.

    They were totally ridiculous, but essential for any kid who was a sports fan. They were like posters, but bigger and ruined your wallpaper more.

Tom Emanski Instruction Videos

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    I don't know of anyone that's actually watched one of these tapes, but I think we've all seen enough commercials of kids throwing perfect strikes into trash cans to know that they were 100 PERCENT EFFECTIVE.

    And who is going to say no to the Crime Dog?

Space Jam

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    This movie was genius and I don't want to hear any different.

    Was it poorly acted? Yes. Were the jokes stupid? Of course. But was the premise of aliens stealing the talents of NBA players to battle Michael Jordan and the Looney Toons for intergalactic supremacy the greatest idea you had ever heard? No doubt.

    And it gave us Bill Murray telling Larry Bird that he wasn't white, he was clear. What else do you want, people?

Nerf Bow

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    Do they still have these things? I imagine with the Hunger Games boom, these would be flying off the shelves.

    Archery is technically a sport, so I'm counting this. There was a stretch where Nerf could literally do no wrong.

    Remember bending the arrows so you could shoot them at a curve? Man, we were so smart back then.

Laser Tag

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    Also counting this as a sport because laser tag was all about hunting the most dangerous game of all: man.

    And by hunting I mean running around a neon nightmare getting shot in the back by some kid named Norman while you complained that your gun wasn't working properly.

Lil' Penny

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    If athletes were as good as their commercials were, Penny Hardaway would have been a Hall of Famer. Anytime you heard Chris Rock's voice, you knew it was going to be good.

    Unfortunately, Penny didn't pan out. Maybe we need to bring this back for Anthony Davis.

    You're welcome, Nike.


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    I don't know what it was with athletes and Zubaz, but they loved them, so we loved them right back. These had to be the most 90s things ever.

    Of course, if you ask Rob Gronkowski, Zubaz never went out of style, but I'm pretty sure he's still living his childhood.

Mike Tyson's Punch-Out

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    To this day I don't think I've ever beaten that final level with Iron Mike. It was hard enough figuring out the ways to beat all the characters leading up to him.

    Super satisfying to knock out King Hippo in one blow, though. That was the best.

    Also, this has to go down in the annals as the most racist game of all time, right? Just take a look at the list of characters.


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    Confession time: I never learned how to rollerblade. I could rollerskate (badly), but there was just something about rollerblades that I never could master.

    Which made my childhood extremely frustrating because street hockey in these things looked amazing.

Koosh Hoops

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    If there's a better way to kill an hour, I've yet to find it. In fact, I'm jonesing for some Koosh Hoops right now.

    For some reason there was just something about the koosh ball that made it even more fun. And, of course, everyone has tried dunking it and ripped the backboard down from your door.

    It happened to the best of us.


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    My apologies to Lil' Penny, but Grandmama was the most influential sports marketing character of my childhood.

    I don't know how in the world putting Larry Johnson in a dress made him seem like the baddest man in the NBA, but it totally worked. 

    Between Grandmama, Starter jackets, Muggsy Bogues and Alonzo Mourning, I had a serious kid crush on the Hornets. And as a Kentucky fan, you better believe I owned this jersey.

Tony Hawk's ProSkater

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    This last one is a definite "end of the childhood" game. It's a late middle school, getting close to high school kind of thing.

    But damn if I didn't love Tony Hawk's pro skater. I didn't even like watching skateboarding and I've already said I couldn't even rollerblade, but this was still awesome.

    It should have been named Tony Hawk's Get As High As You Can And Press Buttons As Fast As You Can. Even if you had no idea what you were doing you could have fun with this game.