It gives us a winner and a loser in each contest. It gives us magnificent athletes that we marvel over and wish to be like. It gives us championships, accolades and trophies. It gives us loud, obnoxious body-painted fans at games. A sport gives us all these basic things, but in reality gives us so much more.
Warning: you are about to enter the mind of one of thousands of “die-hard” sports fans, meaning we eat, breathe and live all things sports. This can be a dangerous place to enter if you’ve never been. So I will enlighten you in how our minds work when it comes to the games we love. At the heart of it, we believe that it is truly more than just a game.
Wanna get away? You don’t have to fly Southwest Airlines. Sports offer us a chance to just simply get away. When we are up to our eyeballs in papers due and studying for exams, we can get away from it all, even if just for four quarters. Sporting events offer us a place where we can leave it all behind, grab a Kit-Kat and a take a break. No, our problems don’t go away when we watch sports. But we do. And sometimes, that is the best remedy of all.
Sports offer us anticipation like few things in the world can. As much as we think we do, we never know what is going to happen. Analysts and so-called “experts” can spend hours talking and writing about what they think or “know” will happen. Yet at tip-off or when the first pitch is thrown, everything goes out the window. The game is played and fans wait to see if the unexpected happens. This anticipation of what should happen, or even better, what could happen, consumes our thoughts daily leading up to the main event.
Sports give us unity. This is why at games, you find yourself high-fiving or chest-bumping people you have never met in your life after an exciting moment. Where else do 40,000 people all at once let out a massive “Sic ’em Bears?” Sports have the power to unify people, in more ways than just screaming the same cheer. For the duration of the game, all the fans are focused on one thing—seeing their team win. This provides a bond that, even if only for nine innings or two halves, is unparalleled in any other form of entertainment.
Finally, the most important thing sports can offer us is hope. Sports have a unique way of inspiring people, even from the youngest of age. Think about the way young boys aspire to be just like the athletes they watch on television or see play at the ballgames. Those athletes become “heroes” and role models for young children and even up to the teenage years. Hope can also come when a team faces adversity. When a team or a player rises above hard times, inspiration is sure to follow. On any given game, or even any given play, the words of the great football coach Vince Lombardi reign true. “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” When a player or team is able to rebound (no pun intended) from a challenging situation, it gives us hope we can do the same for the battles we face in our own lives. One of the greatest lessons sports can teach is how we respond to certain situations. Even the greatest teams will fail; they will lose; they will make errors. But it’s how they respond that inspires and gives us hope.
Sports are so much more than just wins or losses, stats and standings. The games themselves are great, but that is not why we love sports so much. We love them because of what they offer us. Offering us more than just a few relaxing hours of competitive entertainment, sports goes much deeper than W’s and the L’s.
Daniel Wallace is a sophomore journalism major from Colorado Springs, Colo.