Paul Lynde has been rooting for Southern Methodist University's Mustangs for 48 years, even though the team's losses far outweigh its wins over that time. Nothing has been able to stop Lynde from showing up in the stands to root for his team. He's flown almost every corner and border of the country and to Hawaii eight times just to watch his team compete in the "away" column. He dug his heels during 22 losing seasons and for an entire missing season in 1987-88 when the team had to sit on the sidelines for committing recruiting violations. Even with a chickenpox diagnosis at Halloween, he threw on a scarecrow costume and sat far away from the crowd so he could enjoy the game without infecting his fellow fans. He worked his way into a "players' parents only" game against Tulane University in New Orleans to be the lone fan sitting on the SMU side.

Best Top Golf Alternative
Kathy Tran

Novice golfers wanting to embarrass themselves in front of a date don't have to pay $47 an hour at Top Golf. Town East Golf Center in Sunnyvale offers the chance to play a real round of golf for roughly $1 a hole. Now, when we say "real," that does come with some caveats. The course is rough around the edges — it's more like playing golf in a pasture that has been creatively mowed. But that's part of its charm. You can just show up without a tee time, and we've seen a couple play this course while pushing a baby stroller. Which is to say, you come here to get outside and have a little low stakes fun, not because you're the next Jordan Spieth in training. Although, if you do discover a new passion, Town East Golf Center will actually give you a feel for the game's flow and skills you'll need to play more challenging courses. Just be advised that the word is out about this hidden gem and weekends are getting busy.

Best Virtual Sports Complex
Xochitl Gonzalez/Kathy Tran

Virtual reality entertainment has exploded as the technology becomes more accessible and versatile. Sports is still a big part of gaming, but it hasn't quite caught up to the popularity of other types of games set in virtual realms. A new virtual gaming space in Grapevine, however, has helped sports catch up to the medium. The Crush It! Virtual Sports Lounge is the first and (for the time being) only virtual gaming center dedicated to the sporting life. Guests can rent a pod complete with a motion capturing game system that can play almost any kind of competitive sport from popular fare like baseball and football to the more obscure like cricket and dodgeball. Players use real balls and sports equipment like bats and golf clubs to put points on the board and get one stroke closer to the goal. It's an inventive way to tap into a new market for virtual gaming and the best part is you can order drinks and play sports even when it's raining.

America is finally having the discussion it should've started when Confederate monuments started popping up all over the South and the military started naming bases and buildings after the Civil War's most notable slavery defenders. The South Garland Independent School District's trustees unanimously retired South Garland High School's long-time mascot, The Colonel, a title that's as old as the district itself, at the beginning of the year. Then the district fielded submissions for a new mascot and narrowed the options down to 16 possibilities voted on by student and staff as part of a "Mascot Madness" bracket. The Titans edged out The Texans with 65 percent of the vote presumably because no one wants to be associated with Texas' second worst pro-football team (Fun fact: It would've been third if The XFL was still in operation).

Best Place to Play Bocce Ball
Xochitl Gonzalez/KathyTran

If you've been to Sylvan Thirty, you might have easily missed the two bocce ball courts that line the parking lot in front of CiboDivino. Those two giant blue rectangles on the ground aren't there to trip you, rather an opportunity for you to channel your inner-Italian and spend some time learning this highly underappreciated sport. There are some great amenities that come with these courts, which start with miso lobster ramen at TEN Ramen and a cold draft beer. Or grab a pizza or giant charcuterie board from CiboDivino. Picnic tables near the court allow for the perfect setting for a friendly game of bocce ball and a pleasant meal. It's BYOB.

Give us Arlington elementary school teacher Audrey Simmons. Why? Honored by the Rangers as a frontline worker, she threw out the first pitch at the team's home opener this year. You'll remember that she got the ball when Gov. Greg Abbot backed out just hours before the scheduled start, in an odd protest to Major League Baseball decision to move the All-Star Game from Atlanta because of Georgia's recently passed restrictive voting laws. Calling it shameful that baseball was "being influenced by partisan political politics," Abbott did what Abbott do ... and tried to influence baseball with partisan political politics. Of course, the vast majority didn't care one way or the other, Simmons got her deserved moment, and we Texans gave the rest of the country another good laugh.

Best Face of the Franchise
Erik Drost, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Feed us the rock because this is the proverbial slam dunk. No doubt the Stars' Jamie Benn is one of the most respected captains in hockey, and being quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys obviously puts Dak Prescott in the spotlight, broken ankle or not. But nobody carries that Face of the Franchise mantle quite like the Mavericks' Luka Doncic. Heck, he's in the running for face of the entire NBA. Consider that in the Mavs' final win of the 2020-21 season, a 105-100 victory over the Clippers in the playoffs, the star forward had a hand in 31 of his team's 37 field goals, a mark of 83.8% and a league postseason record. Amazing talent, good looks, boyish charm. Simply put, Luka is the man. Or the face. Or whatever you want to call it. Regardless, he's ours.

Wide Receiver CeeDee Lamb nearly posted 1,000 yards last year despite the Cowboys' MASH unit of an offense, and Adolis Garcia has brought fun and excitement to the ballpark while challenging for the Rangers' rookie home run record. But you can't deny the impact that Jason Robertson had on the Stars this past season. Despite being a second-round pick in 2017, he was practically unheard of around these parts. That all changed when the left winger went on to lead NHL rookies in assists (28) and even-strength points (39) while ranking second in points overall (45). For his effort, Robertson was named to the league's All-Rookie Team and finished second in voting for the Calder Cup, given to the NHL's top rookie. Needless to say, the kid is all right.

With a little shoutout to SMU's rowing team for winning the first conference championship in program history, there's really no question that for 2021, success, thy name is Duncanville High School basketball. The Panthers took the UIL state title in 2019 and were expected to repeat in 2020 when the season was called off due to the COVID pandemic. No worries, Duncanville simply took care of business in 2021. Led by power forward Ron Holland, the top recruit in Texas for the 2023 class, and senior Zhuric Phelps, who won MVP honors in the championship game, the Panthers cruised to a 29-1 overall record and a 66-53 victory over Austin Westlake in the finale for the powerhouse's fifth state title.

Best Sporting Venue
One253si

DFW can lay claim to having its share of unique sports venues. There's the American Airlines Center in downtown, the historic Cotton Bowl and, of course, the glitz and glamour of AT&T Stadium. While we would love to give the nod to Globe Life Field, the Rangers' new palace of air conditioning, we're still sorting out our feelings about the move from The Temple. Instead, in terms of a fun night at the ballpark, we're drawn to the intimacy of Riders Field, home of the Rangers' Double-A affiliate in Frisco. Since 2003 it's offered a mix of minor league charm and big-league conveniences. With a cheaper ticket and a team sitting atop its division, Riders Field can give you that needed Field of Dreams vibe. Except for, you know, there's an Ikea next door instead of corn.

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