In honor of Fourth of July, celebrate the greatest sports country on earth | David Whitley

America’s birthday is Monday, July 4. Among the many reasons to celebrate is the fact that we live in the greatest sports country in world history.

OK, that’s more opinion than fact. Greece has a pretty good sports history, but most of it happened before even Tom Brady was born.

Sports are in our DNA. The father of our country threw a silver dollar across the Potomac. Historians dispute that, but there’s no doubt George Washington had a major league arm.

We have 4.25% of the world's population but have provided at least 42.5% of the world's sports energy. The American ingenuity that created the light bulb and the personal computer also invented baseball, basketball, football, instant replay, and The Wave.

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One of sports most memorable moments happened July 4, 1939: Lou Gehrig bids Yankees farewell

Seriously, who’s had it better than us in the past 246 years? What country has been treated to more great sports moments and heroes? Like what happened on July 4, 1939.

After learning he had ALS, Lou Gehrig put on his uniform one last time and told a hushed Yankee Stadium crowd: “For the past two weeks, you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

I still need a hankie reading that. There are a million more reasons sports fans should sing, “Thanks for the Memories” this weekend. I can’t get to them all, but here’s a start.

The Dolphins going 14-0. The Bucs going 0-26. Cal Ripken Jr. showing up for work every day for 16 years.

Richard Petty ... Hank Williams Jr. singing, “Are You Ready for Some Football?" ... The sky hook ... The Army-Navy Game ... Billy “White Shoes” Johnson’s touchdown dance.

Mark Spitz winning seven gold medals (in Munich in 1972) ... Michael Phelps winning eight gold medals (in Beijing in 2008).

Tailgating ... Evel Knievel ... Connors vs. McEnroe ... “Do You Believe in Miracles?”

Bo Jackson running over Brian Bosworth ... Jesse Owens running over Adolf Hitler.

The ABA’s basketball ... Willis Reed limping to the rescue ... Joe Namath’s guarantee ... Joe Namath’s Fu Manchu.

A guy from Mississippi Valley State becoming the greatest player in NFL history (non-Jim Brown Division).

Harry Caray ... Opening a fresh pack of baseball cards ... The stale gum in a fresh pack of baseball cards.

Dr. J ... Dr. James Naismith.

“Whooooa Nellie!”... Ali-Frazier ... Wheaties boxes ... The original Dream Team ... The original Gatorade bath ... Steve Spurrier ... Wilt Chamberlain.

Colin Kaepernick is allowed to take a knee in criticism. ... Tim Tebow is allowed to take a knee in praise.

Bobby Knight ... Monday nights with Howard, Frank and Dandy Don ... Jackie Robinson, Eddie Robinson, Brooks Robinson.

Magic vs. Bird ... Jack vs. Arnie ... Chrissie vs. Martina ... Nancy vs. Tonya ... Tom Brady vs. Father Time.

The Kentucky Derby ... Secretariat.

"Brian’s Song" ... Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue ... Jimmy Johnson ... Jimmie Johnson.

Babe Didrikson winning two golds and a silver at the 1932 Olympics ... Babe Didrikson Zaharias winning 10 LPGA titles.

John Madden ... Al Oerter ... Prince singing in the Super Bowl Halftime rain ... The Broad Street Bullies ... Prime Time ... LeBron.

Darryl Dawkins shattering a backboard ... Frank Shorter ... Francis Ouimet ... Hammerin' Hank Aaron.

Louis defeats Schmeling ... Saban defeats college football.

Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” ... Brandi Chastain’s Bra Heard ‘Round the World … Jim Thorpe ... Teddy Ballgame ... Red Auerbach lighting a victory cigar ... "Caddyshack."

"Inside the NBA" ... Mike Tyson inside a boxing ring ... Tiger Woods inside every other golfer’s head.

Bobby Bowden ... Morganna the Kissing Bandit ... George W. Bush putting on a bulletproof vest and throwing a strike at Yankee Stadium in 2001 ... Jim McKay.

Nolan Ryan pitching no-hitters well into his 40s ... Nolan Ryan giving Robin Ventura a world-class noogie well into his 40s.

Kobe dropping 81 points ... Joey Chestnut eating 76 hot dogs ... John Wooden ... Bill Belichick’s wardrobe ... The Splash Brothers ... The Williams sisters ... Archie Manning’s gene pool.

The Fosbury Flop ... "SportsCenter" with Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann ... Carl Lewis ... Mr. October ... Jim Valvano looking for someone to hug after winning the basketball crown.

Disco Demolition Night ... Rickey Henderson stealing a base ... Tom Landry ... Rickey Henderson stealing another base ... Rosie Ruiz stealing the Boston Marathon ... Andy Kaufman in a wrestling match ... The Battle of the Sexes.

Mary Lou Retton ... Carlton Fisk waving it fair ... The Masters ... The Bambino ... The Immaculate Reception ... The San Diego Chicken.

The national anthem ... It will be played in ballparks big and small this weekend. You can stand with your hat off and your hand over your heart or sit in silent protest. That’s America.

But there’s at least one thing everyone should agree on. On the Fourth of July and every day, every American should feel like the luckiest sports fan on the face of the earth.

David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun's sports columnist. Contact him at Follow him on Twitter @DavidEWhitley

This article originally appeared on The Gainesville Sun: Celebrate sports in the USA this July 4th | David Whitley