Editor's Views: Sports fans in Wisconsin have it good

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Scott Angus
Saturday, July 26, 2014

My wife says I'm a glass-half-full kind of guy.

I can live with that. Today, I'm directing my optimism at Wisconsin sports. And I don't mean just the Badgers. I mean the sports and teams that bring so much joy and occasional heartache to the people of this great state.

What other state has as many big-time teams in as many sports that are as successful, interesting and widely supported as those in Wisconsin? While it's always a good time to be a sports fan in Wisconsin, we're in the midst of a particularly rewarding stretch.

It's the end of July, so let's start with the boys of summer. The Brewers are still in first place in the National League Central despite a slide before the All-Star break. Regardless of what happens, the team has surprised, enthralled and excited fans well into the season.

That's impressive for a small-market club. The Brewers are a good team that just might make a playoff run. And they are set up to succeed for years to come. Thank you, Mark Attanasio, for making the team relevant and making Miller Park the place to be every summer.

While the Brewers are the team of the season, the Packers are creeping into the news with training camp, last week's owners meeting and a roster that should make them one of the NFL's best once again.

Aaron Rodgers is in his prime, and he's surrounded by perhaps the strongest offensive unit of his career. The defense remains a question, but the acquisition of Julius Peppers and a decent draft could make the Packers average or better on that side of the ball. That might be enough to push them over the top.

The Super Bowl is a lot to ask, but we've become accustomed to 10-win seasons and playoff football. Not bad for the only team in pro sports owned by its fans. We're so lucky.

While we're on football, the likeable Gary Andersen is gearing up for his second season as coach at Wisconsin, and this year's Badgers are intriguing.

Melvin Gordon might be the best running back in college, and the offensive line will be stout as always. The quarterback battle appears to be wide open, but sources tell me the coaches want a QB who can move. The defense needs to plug a few holes, but it has potential.

A match-up against LSU in Houston is one of the toughest opening games in Badger history, and the debut of the new Big 10 adds to the excitement. Wisconsin fans have come to expect New Year's Day bowl games, and another one is likely.

Further on the horizon is Badger men's basketball. I'll cover Bo's boys quickly, but suffice it to say that the team's preseason ranking will be highest of Ryan's career. Top 5 is almost a sure thing, and the Badgers could be good enough to stay there.

Let's not forget the Milwaukee Bucks and Marquette Golden Eagles. Both are coming off forgettable campaigns, but they have new coaches, new players and legitimate chances to take major steps this year and in the years ahead.

OK, now think about it. What other state has it so good? For simplicity's sake, let's think about our Midwest peers. Iowa? No pro sports, and the Hawkeyes are underachievers. Minnesota? Three words: Vikings, Twins and Gophers. Illinois? Not even close. Indiana? Ohio? Nope and nope.

You could make a case for Michigan with Michigan and Michigan State in hoops and Michigan State in football. But don't forget the Lions. Sorry.

Soak it in, Wisconsin sports fans. You live in a fine state, and the state of your sports has rarely—if ever—been better.

Scott W. Angus is editor of The Gazette and vice president of news for Bliss Communications. His email is sangus@gazettextra.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @sangus_.

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