Viewpoint: Sports mean more than scoreboards and championships

By Trevor Allison

Baylor has had a successful year in sports. You know most of this already, but here’s a refresher. We’ve had a Heisman winner, a 10-win football team, a men’s basketball Elite Eight appearance and a women’s basketball national championship.

That’s pretty successful. And makes it pretty easy for Baylor students to love sports. But what about students at other schools who don’t have competitive athletics? Or how about fans of perennially unsuccessful teams, like the New Orleans Hornets, Seattle Mariners or Buffalo Bills (I know, the Bills made four straight Super Bowl appearances in the 1990s. But they lost all of them.)

Or what about any Cleveland sports franchise? Why do their fans love sports?

It’s because there is more to sports than winning and losing, success and failure.

Sports are about teamwork and individual struggle and triumph. They are about pushing yourself to your limit. You can learn things from sports experiences that apply to all parts of life. Teamwork. Camaraderie. That special bond between teammates that can only be built through mutual struggle and triumph. The sense of reward for hard work. The idea that you may not always win, even if you try your best. Knowing that there is always a chance for anyone to win. As my dad says, “That’s why they play the games.”

I play sports because I want to win. I love sports because even if I don’t win, there’s always the next game. Sports make the impossible possible. Everyone has a story of sports have inspired them.

I loved the time my dad spent teaching me baseball and the time I’ve spent teaching him soccer. (I love baseball more, so I guess he’s a better teacher.)

When you’re a kid, athletes are heroes who are larger than life, almost above human. When you’re an adult, you realize athletes are just people, but you have more respect for what they do the more you learn about the human experience.

I love sports because in 1980 a team of amateur American hockey players beat the greatest hockey team ever assembled. I loved how Jason McElwain, an autistic basketball player who sat on the bench his entire senior season of high school in 2006, got to play the last four minutes of his final game and hit six 3-pointers in that span.

I love sports because two baseball teams can make the playoffs on the final night of the season after overcoming the largest leads in history, one on a walk-off home run. In 2007, Appalachian State’s Division II football team beat Michigan at Michigan’s stadium, despite Michigan being so heavily favored that casinos wouldn’t even take bets on the game. Because of sports, Michael Oher is far from being homeless and had his story turned into “The Blind Side” starring Sandra Bullock.

In 1988 Kirk Gibson could hardly walk when he hit a game-winning home run in the World Series and commentator Jack Buck exclaimed, “I can’t believe what I just saw.” In 2003 Brett Favre threw for 399 yards and four touchdowns the day after his father died.

I love sports because Jackie Robinson was much more than the first African-American to play Major League Baseball and because “experts” can’t figure out how Tim Tebow wins games.

I saw the first New Orleans Saints game in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and I am certain there is no football team ever assembled that would have beaten the Saints, and their city, that night.

I love sports for other reasons that I can’t even put in to words.

In the words of the great Scott Van Pelt, “Sports are better than anything else always.” That’s why I love sports.

Trevor Allison is a senior journalism major from Floyds Knobs, Ind., and is a reporter for the Lariat.