Why Sports Are Worth Caring About
They hit me in the gut:
The people who discount sports as silly games that adults play for loads of cash. I’ve heard people say sports aren’t important and that they’re pointless. I’ve heard people say sports are so easy to cover (“Just go to a few games and write about it — that’s it!”). And that hurts me. Personally.
Granted, sports is not life and death. In fact, I’ll admit it often is pure entertainment. Eighty-five percent of the time, sports is not hard news. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.
1) The Story Lines
Take, for instance, the 2014 NCAA Championship game featuring No. 7-seeded UConn and No. 8-seeded Kentucky. From that sentence in itself, it’s obvious the two teams left standing at the end clawed their way to Texas. UConn’s fresh-faced, recently retired NBA-er coach, Kevin Ollie, notched a place in history as only the second coach to win an NCAA championship in a first tourney go-around. As a whole, the UConn team became the first ever No. 7-seed to win in the finals. Tales of ordinary people fighting against all odds — and winning — come alive in the sports world. They inspire generations of kids to ball it up in driveways and plaster posters of athletes on their bedroom walls. Sports matter.
2) The Attitude
Before starting an internship, during November and December of 2013 I held a brief stint as a freelancer for a local Malibu paper in which I mainly covered Malibu High School sports. Malibu High is a small school. Their website says the graduating senior class is just shy of 200 kids. So naturally, their sports teams play in the smaller leagues, and sometimes they struggle quite a bit. The first assignment the editor gave me was to cover the last football game of the year. The team had not won a single game. Expectations were low, however, when I got there, under the lights of the Moorpark Community College stadium, the atmosphere was electric. Parents paced the sidelines, and teammates loudly and proudly jumped around, cheering each other on. Malibu led 21-13 at one point. They lost 52-13, but they led at one point. Those boys could’ve easily been rolled over. Imagine losing game after game. Instead they barreled out swinging with a “no quit” attitude, as the coach said after the game. Sports matter.
On the same night of the 2014 NCAA Championship game, a UConn RA named “Derek” sent out an email to students in his dorm that quickly flew around the Twittersphere. In it, he compares cheering for men’s UConn basketball to cheering for laundry. Additionally, he ends by saying, “Have fun, but not too much fun.” Whether or not the email was intended to be sarcastic is beside the point. The point is that sports are chock full of guts and glory. Sports are talent and heart and hard work and dedication all wrapped into games on fields and courts. If you’re blind to the impact that sports have on society, then your name might as well be Derek.
If you’re not a “sports person,” I encourage you to go out and enjoy a game: baseball, volleyball, basketball, football, tennis, soccer and the list goes on. Even if you don’t know the rules, talk to some fans, read about the players, look into the stories. If you’re looking for a place to start, try this piece (if this doesn’t tug at your heart strings, I’m not sure what will).
Give sports a shot. I promise it will be worth it.