15 uniquely cool sports-gifts ideas for the holidays

FOX Sports South takes a modern and retro-chic look at 15 of the most uniquely cool gift ideas for the holidays, with a singular focus on sports enjoyment.

FOOTBALL

1. The NFL’s Mr. Potato Head

Let’s start with a kid-friendly gift:

Mr. Potato Head has been an American institution since the early 1950s, appealing to children with vivid imaginations during the pre-Internet era … and then thrilling new-age kids during three wildly successful Toy Story movies.

(Mr. Potato Head even had a short-lived animated TV show in the late 1990s.)

The original version offered change-up looks involving Mr. Potato Head’s choices of ears, eyes, noses, shoes, hats and a mouth.

The updated MPH bears the customized look of an NFL superfan … complete with a stiff-arm move to ward off would-be tacklers.

Bears: (Click here)
Broncos: (Click here)
Raiders: (Click here)

2. Field Goal Kicking Lessons

The quickest route to an NFL career may be that of a long snapper, the anonymous 240-pound specialist at the bottom of pro rosters.

For a little more fame and money, though, young athletes can also aspire to be kickers or punters.

Specifically in the South, a pair of former Georgia Tech kickers — Scott Sisson and Scott Blair — offer private tutorials for prospective kickers and punters.

Web site promise: “We’ll put you under one last pressure cooker for each discipline and chart/time the results for a benchmark you can build on in 2014.”

3. Classic NFL Games On DVD

With one click onto YouTube, it’s easy to access clips of the NFL’s greatest playoff games from the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

**Chargers-Dolphins (1981 AFC playoffs)
**Cowboys-49ers (1981 NFC title game)
**Broncos-Browns (1986 AFC title game)
**Bengals vs. 49ers (Super Bowl XXIII)

However, it’s a little more difficult to land extended copies of regular-season games from that era — replete with commercials, or even the pregame shows from CBS, NBC, ABC or FOX Sports.

At least, until now.

A number of Web sites offer classic NFL games from the previous four decades.

**Listing, by team (Click here)
**Listing, by year (Click here)
**Classic NFL drafts (Click here)
**College Bowl Games From the 60s/70s/80s (Click here)

4. Super Shock Football

For those with fond memories of the NFL-licensed Electric Football game from the 1980s and 90s, there is a phone app that simulates the experience of using a metal board and vibrating players — without the tedious hassle of manually reconfiguring players at the line of scrimmage after every down.

The phone version also allows for greater proficiency when making a long pass, or attempting to, uh, kick the ball in between the uprights.

To get the $1.99 app, simply go to “Super Shock Football” and then watch the YouTube tutorial (below) to master the setup.


GOLF

5. Golf Ball Finder

Remember Lacey Underrall’s line to Chevy Chase in Caddyshack, sarcastically asking if he had a million stories about his ball getting lost?

Well, thanks to the Golf Ball Finder, weekend hackers shouldn’t have any trouble locating their wayward tee shots or approach shots.

On the flip side, no one has yet to invent a golf club or golf ball that magically avoids the woods or lake.

6. Laser Rangefinder

From one modern technological advance to another.

The Laser Rangefinder puts a modern spin on how golfers can survey a particular hole, from either the tee or fairway.

And to use another Caddyshack reference, the device is only a step below Al Czervik’s circa-1980 technology, in terms of crafting the perfect route to the cup.


HOCKEY

7. Super Chexx Bubble Arcade Game

The majority of gifts here can be purchased without figuratively taking out a second mortgage.

However, the bubble arcade game comes at a steep rate — regardless if you buy the NHL-licensed product (choosing amongst the league’s 30 teams) or the “Miracle On Ice” package, pairing Team USA vs. Russia.

(It’s also fair to wonder if Super Chexx has a Team USA vs. Finland version of the 1980 Miracle setup, since the Americans needed to beat the Fins to capture gold at Lake Placid.)

8. NHL Video Games

Invoking the retro theme, here are perhaps the greatest NHL-endorsed games in history — NHL ’91 from Sega Genesis (YouTube video also below) … and NHL 99 from Nintendo.

 


BASEBALL

9. Intellivision Baseball Video Game

The graphics may be humorously archaic, but the Intellivision baseball game still stands the test of time, enjoyment-wise.

For those playing at the “expert” level, you can’t beat the sound effects that accompany each pitch and the lightning-fast speed for which the infielders toss the ball from base to base.


RUNNING

10. The Un-Leash (Jogging With Dogs)

Jogging and basketball are great hobbies for individualist gamers, the ones who don’t rely on others to enhance their development (or enjoyment) of a particular sport.

Of course, runners sometimes multitask while logging miles, in the form of pushing along infants in strollers or taking their dogs out for medium-length or heavy-mile jogs. (Click here for The Un-Leash)

The above gift appeals to the latter consumer, the runner who’s willing to give their pet ample running room on streets and sidewalks.

MISCELLANEOUS

11. Speed-Demon Driving Schools

Big cities, like Atlanta, offer adult thrill-seekers the opportunity to drive an actual Sprint Cup-ready vehicle at a NASCAR venue.

The perks include a three-hour orientation, at the hands of expert instructors, and then the chance to apply that knowledge to 3-5 minutes of solo racing around the track — with few speed restrictions.


12. Wall Decals

When watching the NBA or college hoops on TV, you’ll hear the term “posterize,” alluding to a player directly dunking over a helpless defender, or conversely, a defender gloriously swatting an opponent’s shot — with photographers capturing the memory.

In today’s age of highlight preservation — let’s call it The Fathead Age — the focus has shifted to a single player or object being adorned to a sports fan’s walls. The Fathead decals are so life-like, it’s as if Peyton Manning or Tom Brady are actually standing tall in a basement, waiting for someone to execute a 15-yard curl pattern.

Whether celebrating athletes or logos for specific teams, these over-sized items are the ultimate space-fillers for rooms that complement a 60-inch, high-definition TV.

13. Stadium Replicas

The Danbury Mint has been authorized to construct and sell miniature replicas of NFL and college football stadiums, along with some of baseball’s most storied cathedrals, past and present.

**Old Yankee Stadium (Click here)
**Wrigley Field (Click here)
**Cleveland’s Old Municipal Stadium (Click here)
**Old RFK Stadium (Washington D.C. — click here)
**Pittsburgh’s old Three Rivers Stadium (Click here)

There are even links to a few indoors stadiums of note — like the old Pontiac Silverdome near Detroit (home to the NFL’s first Super Bowl in a cold-weather city) … although it’s a little weird to think of the Silverdome without the white bubble on the top.

Now that the Danbury Mint has extended its stadium reach — can you believe someone took the time to replicate the Texas Rangers’ old park from the 1970s and 80s? — it might be time for a second glass case.

14. Underrated Sports Movies

1. Diggstown — Starring James Woods, Lou Gossett Jr. (Boxing)
2. Friday Night Lights — Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Tim McGraw (Football)
3. Mystery, Alaska — Starring Russell Crowe, Burt Reynolds (Hockey)
4. The Bad News Bears — Starring Walter Matthau, Tatum O’Neal (Baseball)
5. Remember The Titans — Starring Denzel Washington (Football)
6. A League Of Their Own — Starring Tom Hanks, Geena Davis (Baseball)
7. The Wrestler — Starring Mickey Rourke, Evan Rachel Wood (Wrestling)
8. Breaking Away — Starring Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern (Cycling)
9. Eight Men Out — Starring Charlie Sheen, D.B. Sweeney, John Cusack(Baseball)

15. Laughable Sports Sequels

The following movie sequels are so bad (and only worthy of one viewing) … you may never learn to trust the judgment of a film executive again.

1. Caddyshack II
2. The Sting II
3. Teen Wolf Too
4. Rocky V
5. Slap Shot 2
6. The Next Karate Kid
7. Mighty Ducks 3
8. Major League III
9. Major League II
10. Bad News Bears: Breaking Training