I know a lot of people who think sports are just a game. A thing that people take way too seriously, and allow to control too much of their life. To them I say, “Poo poo on you.” Sports are so much more than just a game, just a contest, just men in tight pants (here’s looking at you baseball pants oww owwwwww). Let’s have a look at a few examples of how sports have affected people in ways deeper than JUST a game.
When we were children my parents always made sure that my brothers and I were involved in sports. We all played tennis, Softball/baseball, basketball, and almost all of us were on the swim team. Putting us in those situations molded us all into strong, hard working, social, well adjusted adults with irritable bowel syndrome. Okay, that last part is unrelated…or is it? Sports cause IBS – someone do that scientific study and get back to me. See below for adorable pictures of my brothers and I becoming semi decent human beings. Unrelated…should i start bringing the bows back?
However, being involved in all of those things did teach us interpersonal skills that have been invaluable to our successes as adults. It built in us an ability to create relationships and take on leadership roles. It taught us it is okay to strike out because that is going to happen in life – you will have failure. The question is how you approach the next at bat. Do you step back up to the plate frustrated, shoulders tight, and mind already checked out. Or do you step back up to the plate loose, positive, and not worried about the fact you struck out last time? Good Lord baseball/softball is ripe with encouraging metaphors!
In middle and high school playing sports teaches you time management, and how to prioritize your responsibilities. It strengthens your ability to communicate and work as a part of a team, and in some special cases it allows our precious young adults to blossom into the leaders they were born to be. In some cases during these years the coaches of these teams become a strong, sometimes the only, positive influence in their lives. Some find the structure and support they don’t have elsewhere in their lives. Some find a confidant or father/mother figure they may not have at home. For some it is a haven in the storm; a safe place to be when everything else in their world crumbles. A place it is okay to take out aggression in a controlled and focused way. For some it is all they have to keep them moving.
Going into college sports can mean a person actually getting to go to school when they never dreamed it financially possible. It is a stepping stone for the few hardest working and most dedicated to really hone their craft before they take the next step onto the big stage. It teaches people to rely on their teammates and trust that they will always have their back.
In life sports can be a gathering. My family gathers every Sunday to watch Green bay together. I know many other families that through tough times (here’s looking at you teenage years) a mutual love of a pro or college team has been the thread that held a relationship from falling apart, or the stitch that started to bring it back together. Memories of going to your first stadium – last forever. I know fathers and sons who have gone to the same stadium and sat in the same seats for decades to cheer on the ever changing lineup of the same team. Watching sports gives you a common goal, a shared passion, a band aide during times of trouble. It is so much more than a game.
I vividly remember getting the news that my aunt had taken her own life. We drove straight through from Chattanooga, TN to Cedarburg, WI for the funeral. It was a flurry of events seeing family we hadn’t seen in years. I didn’t get to know my aunt as well as I would have liked, but I know my dad and I know her children and my heart broke into a thousand pieces for them. That weekend we decided to stay in Wisconsin upon the request of some of the family members to watch the super bowl all together. It was such a beautifully broken moment for this to be what brings us all together. That night in my aunt’s house we watched the Green Bay Packers win the super bowl. That night football was more than a game.
So to anyone who thinks sports are just a game. Sports are a magical unicorn that can take many forms, and serve many purposes. Take a minute to remove yourself from the hooplah of the huge business industry that college and professional sports have become and focus instead on the little kid with the foam finger and their proud parents.