“Why sports? What’s so good about a few dudes and a ball? Don’t you have better things to do?” Questions such as these have been leveled at me for years. Every time, I roll my eyes, smile to myself and shake my head because the silly person asking any of these questions just does not understand. As if there is anything more important than sport. I sincerely believe that centuries from now, historians will consider organized sport as our contribution to the world, on equal footing with Roman roads, Greek government or Egyptian architecture.
One could argue that the personal computer is what will stand out in the chronicle of history. While we certainly live in the age of technology, those heartless machines cannot compare to the passionate feelings of sports. Can you connect to a computer? Can it make you feel? Of course not. Sports, however, embody emotion and storyline. They are the national unity of “USA 4, USSR 3”; Michael Jordan’s raw tears from winning the NBA title on Father’s Day, just weeks after his dad passed away; or the New Orleans Saints returning to the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina.
Sports are more egalitarian than any democracy. The last four presidents have all gone to Harvard or Yale, but in sports, greatness comes from anywhere and everywhere. Who was the last senator to spend the first 15 years of his life in the slums like Michael Oher? The best soccer player on Earth is 5 feet six inches, but only once since Kennedy has a president been shorter than six feet. How could one forget Jesse Owens putting the smack down on Hitler’s master race during the 1936 Berlin Olympics or Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier almost 20 years before the Civil Rights Act?
Sports are an outlet; they are where we go when the world is too overwhelming. All the importance in the universe is contained within a few chalk lines. There is a score and rules to be followed, and it is fair. If my team is ahead when the time is up, you can argue all you want, but my team won. Results make sense and are not interpreted based on personal feelings — well, except in figure skating.
Sports are community and connection. There is still nothing like going to the ballpark on a warm summer’s eve surrounded by fellow lovers of the game. I’ve met a thousand people but have never felt more intimate than when executing a perfectly timed give ‘n’ go with a complete stranger. Our country is divided over every single political issue, but we can all agree on the doomed heroism of Colin Kaepernick in the Super Bowl.
Sports are magic. There’s a saying in Europe: “The ball is round so that anything can happen.” Sports replace childhood belief in fairy tales with the belief that no matter how far behind your team is, a comeback is still possible. Anytime you watch or play a game, something amazing could happen. Sure, we might get crap or monotony 99 times. But that 100th time, we watch the Red Sox come back from three games down to win the American League pennant over the hated Yankees, or we see Trey Burke’s 30-foot game-winner swish through the net. After 99 times, we jump to our feet as David Tyree desperately clings to a pass against his helmet, or we drop our jaws as Leo Messi runs past defenders as if they were training cones.
Sports are important. They are a form of dramatic art, the greatest. Real blood and sweat are poured into every moment, none of this corn starch stuff. It is art that can be created by anyone, from the young boy playing catch with his dad to the physical geniuses who rule the NBA. Sports are enjoyed by everyone who loves seeing great men and women do amazing things. Sports are not mere entertainment or work, as are computer games or construction. Sports are like music or painting, literature or photography, theater or poetry. Sports transcend.
Micah Watanabe is a freshman at Drexel University. He can be contacted at [email protected]