Today is the one day of the year set aside to reflect on everything for which we can be thankful (and also to splurge on our intake of delicious food).

The sports world has provided plenty of items to be added to locals’ thankful lists this year. Here’s a rundown of the top four, as I see it.

‘A CHAMPIONSHIP CITY’

There can’t be anything Houston area sports fans could be more thankful for than when on the night of Nov. 1 the words came out of Astros manager A.J. Hinch’s mouth declaring Houston to be “a championship city.”

For a city where the sports history is filled with far more heartache than triumph, the Astros’ World Series win finally gave the Houston area something to celebrate. And such an event to lift spirits couldn’t have come at a better time for an area devastated by the floods of Hurricane Harvey just two months prior.

It was the first championship for a major-sport professional team in Houston since the Rockets’ back-to-back NBA titles in 1994 and 1995, and the first-ever World Series in the 56-year history of the Astros franchise. And the championship came by way of one of the most exciting, history-making postseasons in MLB history, just to make to title run even sweeter.

PLAYOFF FEVER

There’s nothing like the pomp and circumstance of high school football for small communities in Texas — especially when the team is winning and even more so when it’s in the playoffs. Fans all across Galveston County can be thankful for what is currently one of the most all-around successful seasons in recent memory.

Seven (count ‘em, seven) teams — Ball High, Clear Springs, Dickinson, Friendswood, Hitchcock, La Marque and Texas City — in the county are bi-district champions and have advanced to the second round of the postseason, with their dreams of a state title still intact this Thanksgiving.

Texas high school football coaches like to say that if they’re having to hold practices over the Thanksgiving week holiday, it’s a sign of a good season. Well, Galveston County is packed with good seasons in 2017.

NBA RELEVANCY

In a superstar-driven league where more and more of said superstars have taken to joining forces, fewer and fewer NBA teams can legitimately say they’re in the championship discussion.

Currently, the Rockets can be put onto a list of 2018 NBA title contenders with the defending champion Golden State Warriors, the red-hot Boston Celtics and the always-relevant San Antonio Spurs. Even though they’re currently struggling, the defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers and the superstar-laden Oklahoma City Thunder are on the list, as well. Maybe, add the Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards, too.

That’s just eight teams (at best) out of 30 that have any realistic hope this NBA season, and, thankfully, the Rockets are one of them.

STUDENT-ATHLETES STEPPING UP

When the floodwater from Hurricane Harvey began to recede, one of the first, largest and most organized volunteer efforts to help get the communities hit hardest back on their proverbial feet came from the local high school athletic programs.

Student-athletes and coaches from schools in Dickinson, Friendswood and League City teamed up for door-to-door clean-up efforts, to help local grocery stores meet the post-storm demand, assist at shelters and other various volunteer projects.

Thankfully, Galveston County parents and local coaches are molding young people here with senses of community and helping others in need.

James LaCombe: 409-683-5242, james.lacombe@galvnews.com or on Twitter @JamesAtGalvNews

Sports Editor

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