A Colorado Sports Crash Course for the Colorado Newbie

September 7, 2017

From the nearly year-round action across the state’s five major professional sports teams, to the six hard-fought championships won between them, Colorado is a sports fan’s dream. Maybe you're a fan of the “beautiful game;” maybe you're a die-hard gearing up for pro football season. Maybe the crack of a baseball bat on a warm summer evening is like music to your ears; or maybe you're one to hunker down inside an arena with hockey or basketball. No matter your preference, Colorado has something for everyone. Well, almost everyone.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of the few, the bashful, the sports-disinclined. It’s OK, we’re not here to judge; we’re here to give you the tools you need to get through the upcoming football, basketball, and hockey seasons, and potentially another "Rocktober"—if you’re wondering about that, we’ll get there—for the first time in eight years. After you’re done reading this article, you’ll be able to talk to pretty much anyone about pretty much any Colorado sports team for about five minutes. Anything more than that, and you’re on your own (hey, the baby bird must fly, right?).

Denver Broncos
First thing’s first: Colorado is Broncos Country. No matter what’s going on in the Colorado sports world, the Broncos come first. And, if there’s one thing Broncos fans care about more than anything, it’s who’s playing quarterback. Ever since the retirement of legendary quarterback John Elway (now the team’s general manager), the Broncos have only had one quarterback take them back to the big game, and that’s…legendary quarterback Peyton Manning. This year, however, the Broncos' quarterback situation is anything but legendary. Although starting quarterback Trevor Siemian has some loyal fans who swear he’s going to be the next Tom Brady (both were taken in the last few rounds of the draft, and outplayed other quarterbacks thought to be better), most aren’t convinced that he has what it takes to lead the Broncos to another title. And while Siemian did beat out 2016 first-round draft pick Paxton Lynch (who’s currently battling a knee injury), that’s not really saying much given Lynch’s underwhelming performance in the early going. Adding another wrinkle: just before the start of the season, the Broncos brought back former backup Brock Osweiler; his departure as a free agent after the Broncos' last championship was messy with no shortage of hurt feelings. Finally, if you’re going to talk Broncos, you absolutely need to know that the best player on the team doesn’t even play offense—outside linebacker Von Miller is always making things tough on opposing defenses.

Colorado Rockies
If it wasn’t for the Broncos, Denver would otherwise be a baseball town. Even when the Rockies are battling it out to avoid last place, Coors Field still posts record-breaking attendance—meaning there’s no shortage of purple and black on the light rail during the spring, summer, and fall. Of course, baseball is the marathon to football’s sprint; with 162 games played every year, it can get a little exhausting to follow the boys on Blake Street. But, this year is a little different than most: despite some recent stumbles, the Rockies are actually smack dab in the middle of the playoff race for the first time in nearly a decade. And, if you’re new to Colorado, there’s something very special about October baseball in our fair state: the crisp, cool air, the excitement of playoff baseball, and the hope among Rockies fans to finally bring home a World Series title. If there's a Rocktober this year, third baseman Nolan Arenado is sure to play a critical role. The young slugger is almost as impressive with his bat as he is on the field, snagging spectacular, jaw-dropping plays on a nightly basis. Additionally, outfielder Charlie Blackmon (whose gigantic beard makes him look more like a ZZ Top reject than a ballplayer) is also a big part of why the Rockies have something special going in 2017.

Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets were in the Colorado sports doghouse for a long time until they drafted superstar forward Carmelo Anthony in 2003. Until ‘Melo’s departure in 2011, the Nuggets were perennial contenders, even advancing to the Western Conference Finals in 2009. Since the end of the Carmelo Era, however, there hasn’t been much to cheer about on the hardwood at Pepsi Center—that is, until a very large man with a difficult-to-pronounce name made a big splash last season. Burgeoning superstar center Nikola Jokić, a Serbian player who can do incredible things when the ball is in his hands, has given weary Nuggets fans some real hope. During the off-season, the Nuggets acquired another big man: former all-star power forward Paul Millsap will make the Nugs a force to be reckoned with under the basket.

Colorado Avalanche
At one time, the Avs were the crown jewel of non-Broncos sports teams in Colorado. With two Stanley Cup titles to their name, they’re the only other franchise besides the Rapids to win their sport’s championship. Unfortunately, the mighty have fallen. With only 48 points, the Avalanche were the worst team in the NHL by a mile last year (the next-worst team had 69), and this year isn’t looking much better. But, just because the Avs aren’t going to be good anytime soon, doesn’t mean you can’t learn a couple players: defenseman Gabriel Landeskog is arguably the team’s best player, and its captain. In addition to Landeskog, the team’s two young centers, Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon, are worth the price of admission. The Avs still have a very loyal following, but don’t be surprised if you see more people rooting for the visitor than the home team if you choose to catch some action on the ice this year.

Colorado Rapids
While soccer still hasn’t quite caught on in the United States, it’s more popular now than it’s ever been. And, the best place to watch professional soccer is still at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, home of the former MLS Champions, the Colorado Rapids. After winning the MLS Cup in 2010—the only other team besides the Broncos and Avalanche to bring a championship home to Colorado—the Rapids have underwhelmed. But, despite finishing close to the bottom of the rankings, there’s still some excitement due to the 2015 acquisition of former U.S. Men’s National Team goaltender Tim Howard. Frankly, sometimes the real stars at Rapids games are the always raucus supporters who sing, chant, and cheer their team onwin or lose.