Chimneys and reindeer were thumbs in a conversation among our family and friends at our holiday get-together during winter break. While watching the Patriots vs. Ravens NFL football game, our talk eventually centered on our favorite sports teams. All of a sudden, one of our family friends just said it:
“I really just don’t see the point to sports.”
Have you ever chugged a water bottle expecting water and gotten something else? As I heard my family friend say this, I felt that similar sense of shock.
Not sure how to react, I poked my toothpick into another delicious meatball. “The weather sure is cold outside, huh?”
Maybe I should have responded with the fact that more people watch the Super Bowl than vote for the president. But that may and should have freaked him out.
Sports must mean something to the 73,000 people who sat through a negative 10-degree wind chill in Green Bay, Wis., to watch an NFL football game between the 49ers and the Packers. The local pride that sports can bring to a community is a cultural connector among humans.
Sports can provide lasting moments and memories that aren’t obtained from suffering through the 9–5, Monday–Friday routine. It can produce profound emotion out of groups of people — whether it’s tears of joy, sadness or inspiration.
The sports world is a microcosm of society, in that it can show everything, including corporate greed, intrinsic perseverance and proof that anything is possible. Athletes like former tennis superstar Billie Jean King, who fought for fair treatment and equal pay for female athletes, continue to transcend sports after their playing careers. Recently, she was selected as an American delegate for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, recognizing her accomplishments on and off the court.
But most of all, sports are fun. Wall Street is driven by money, government by politics, and though professional sports’ corporatism can ruin everything, watching games is fun.
Maybe I’m wrong, and he was right. Maybe these are silly games we trick ourselves into holding more value to than what they are worth. Win or lose, the sun will still come up the next day, and sports won’t mean anything more than Candy Crush.
Have you read this and still aren’t convinced about the value of sports? Next time you’re bored and want to huddle up in your jammies, go watch “Sport in America: Our Defining Stories” on HBO. This documentary can tell it better than I can.