I take sports very seriously. It might be my competitive edge, my love of competition, did I mention competition? It’s just fun. I gotta win, you know?
My friends and family ask me to calm down, tell me getting upset over it isn’t worth it. I know they mean well, that they’re only looking out for my well-being, but sometimes, that’s simply not the case, because sports are more than just a game.
Sports can break barriers before society fully embraces them, like the Brooklyn Dodgers and Jackie Robinson did with the color barrier long before the Civil Rights Movement, the same way sports are accepting gay athletes before gay rights are cemented as more than a concept.
They establish and develop community, helping cities with diverse populations come together on common ground.
When tragedies occur, people look for guidance, for hope, and for change. Sometimes it occurs in political action, relief efforts and public service. Other times, sports rise to the occasion.
On a day that will never be forgotten, September 11, 2001, the World Trade Center Towers were destroyed and over 3,000 Americans lost their lives. The following January, the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl. Is it a play on words? Yes, yes it is, but the effect was their, because we all could believe.
After the New England area was tortured by the Sandy Hook Massacre and Boston Marathon bombings, the Boston Red Sox went on to win the World Series after many expected them to be the cellar dwellers in the AL East.
Surely we can’t forget about the Japanese women’s soccer team that won the 2011 World Cup over the U.S. after a magnitude 9 earthquake and a tsunami tore through Japan, taking the lives of more than 18,000 and displacing hundreds of thousands from their homes.
Finally, and in my opinion, without question, the most momentous sporting event to ever occur in the history of sports, the Miracle on Ice lifted a nation. The economy in shambles and the U.S.S.R dominating the world in every facet, all hope in the future seemed lost and irrational for many American families. That fateful 1980 Olympics showed the world and the U.S. that there is always hope. If you haven’t watched the film Miracle, you really should. I’ve posted a link to my review here. The final monologue of the film, given by Kurt Russell as Herb Brooks, reads: “…Young men willing to sacrifice so much of themselves, all for an unknown. A few years later, the U.S. began using professional athletes at the Games- ‘Dream Teams’. I always found that term ironic because now that we have Dream Teams, we seldom ever get to dream. But on one weekend, as America and the world watched, a group of remarkable young men gave the nation what it needed most- a chance, for one night, not only to dream, but a chance, once again, to believe.”
It’s a moment I wish I could go back and see, but I suppose a recording of the game will have to do.
Keep this in mind the next time you watch a sporting event. Some athletes only play for the paychecks, but many play for something greater, something bigger than they could ever be. And that, my friends, is worth watching.