Monday, April 8, 2013
Some Reasons Why I Love Sports
In my sophomore year of college, my roommates, Kathy and Emily, and I made a decision to start having school spirit. By our definition, that meant learning about football and basketball and starting to attend games. I had no idea that that decision would lead to a passion for sports (not to mention a passion for my team) that grows with each passing year. If I'd known then that I'd someday love sports enough to want to work in sports media, my life might have been very different. Of course, instead of my dream scenario of working with the Tigers, I'd likely be broke and covering some team I don't care about in, like, Des Moines right now. But I digress.
I spent all of my high school years in marching band. We were very athletic and disciplined, more like a drum corps that happened to be affiliated with a school. It was legit. (Any veteran band geek will understand this. Anyone who's laughing can move on.) Because band was the right pastime for me personality-wise at a formative time of my life, many aspects of that training and experience will be with me till my dying day. Sometimes I wish life was still that straightforward. Athletic pursuits (including dance, exercise, marching, etc.) fulfill some fundamental needs that often go unmet in the "real world"… such as:
- Hard work with consistent benefits. It's pretty simple. If you put in practice time and conditioning as an athlete, you will improve, people will notice, and rewards will follow. Few disciplines, or careers, have such an obvious return on investment and satisfaction of a job well done. I follow lots of basketball players on Twitter, and their "in the gym, grit and grind, gotta get this win" lifestyle seems a lot more satisfying than "Grindin in my cubicle with this paperwork and data entry. Again."
- Order and consistency. Sports have clear-cut rules and regulations. There's a natural rhythm of schedules and seasons. Despite the occasional loose cannon, athletes generally know how to behave and how they can expect to be treated. It's not hard to understand the culture.
- Creativity. There's room for artistry and individuality within the athletic structure.
- Assurance that miracles can happen. Despite what I just said about predictability, that's why they call it March Madness. Cinderellas dance and Davids beat Goliaths. Sports have just enough possibility to keep things interesting.
- Unity, camaraderie, and mentoring. This is where I connect most with team sports. I know that working side by side long-term for a common goal brings people together like nothing else. The strongest bonds are formed in the trenches. It inspires me to see teams not only achieve greatness together, but also rally and support one another during the bad times (like Louisville's rally around Kevin Ware, which is why I, a diehard Memphis fan, am rooting for them tonight). I also love to see good coach-player relationships. It makes such a difference to have someone invested in you and your development.
- The power to bring people together. When a community of wildly different individuals comes together to support a team, it's just awesome. I embraced it when the Grizzlies made a deep playoff run a few years ago, and of course when the Tigers went to the national championship in 2008. I'll never forget running out of my house with my mom after the Final Four win, hopping around on the sidewalk waving pompoms, and people driving by honking and waving their flags and pompoms too. It was great.
This basketball season, I thought a lot about these things and how they relate to life in general, the life of faith, and the Church. I still can't express my conclusions without it turning into a total Jesus Juke, so maybe I'll revisit it another time. But I thought I'd go ahead and post this list.