Why Sports Matter

Why Sports Matter

Kyle Sullender '13, Senior Executive Editor

Events, sports, games; they go by many names, it’s not truly significant which you choose, but there is an undeniable attraction to them. Since the early Olympic Games hosted by the Ancient Greeks there has been an unexplainable amount of significance placed on what is merely a game. Today athletes are paid copious millions to perform at a level that borders that of freakish. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees for example, signed a contract this offseason which will in turn bring him forty million dollars in the 2012-’13 NFL season. Baseball players like Ryan Howard and Derek Jeter make over twenty million dollars a year with their current contracts.

These men do not cure disease, they do not invent things like the iPhone or Switzerland’s LHC (Large Hadron Collider), not one of them has explored the great mysteries of mankind or asked the questions that beg to be answered like why are we here, or are we alone. Yet we pay them massive sums of money, so massive that if I were to live 200 years I could still never dream of acquiring a sum of cash near that amount.

We wear their names on our backs, and we pay our hard earned money to see them play. To see them compete for a trophy we will never touch, never hold, and that we had no part in winning. Why? What drives society to these people and these games?

The monetary situation may not be consistent globally however the principle is present. A few times every decade countries from around the world will send their players to the World Cup, the Olympics, and other international sporting events, not to mention those they host domestically. Across the globe human beings put everything aside to cheer on a man they don’t know to kick a ball into a net. Why does it matter?

I have a sad conclusion for you, but even after reading it I ask you to continue reading for the conclusion of my thought. The truth is it doesn’t matter. If Brad Lidge didn’t strike out Eric Hinske in game five of the 2008 World Series it wouldn’t matter. If Eli Manning never evaded defenders just long enough to hurl the ball down field to David Tyree who concluded the play by catching the ball by pressing it with both hands against his helmet and it turn winning the Giants Super Bowl XLII, it simply wouldn’t matter.

Now some will disagree, I myself found difficulty writing that last paragraph, knowing that watching the Phillies win that World Series was one of the best moments of my young life. However the outcome was in no way significant to this world or the majority of its people. What was significant however was that the game was played at all.

By this point you’ve surely noticed that I’m rather the sports enthusiast. And so to this point, my words have probably seemed confusing, coming from an obvious fan of all these so called “games”, why would I place them in a degree of unworthiness in relation to our valuable time and money? Here’s why. If Brad Lidge blew that save in game five, and the Phillies went on to lose the 2008 World Series, I still would have watched the 2009 season. I would still spend my part-time wage son tickets to see them play. All this because it didn’t  matter whether they won or lost, until that final pitch was thrown, nothing else mattered, and there was always hope.

Sports create an escape, a period of time where seemingly nothing else matters. When the game is on the rest of your worries seem to disappear, and from there on all you’re worried about is who wins and how, but at the end of the day the outcome doesn’t change the fact that you were given an opportunity to express yourself in a way free of whatever else you had going on. That is what matters.

Being a fan means giving a part of yourself away, whether it’s for a lifetime or an afternoon there is a relationship that seems to bond with you on a molecular level. You offer these men your time and money because in turn they give you something priceless. Freedom from your job, your family, your finances, the opportunity to feel hopeful when reality often drags you under, the chance to be a part of something that millions of other people simultaneously agree and disagree with you on. It really doesn’t matter the reason you love sports; and the list could go on, but these events grant you a period of pure mental freedom, to just watch and enjoy, to be a part of something you care about without being affected by the outcome.

Even in the case of that devastating, soul-crushing loss, as awful as saying as it is; it’s just a game. The joy of sports is that win or lose in does not affect the bulk of us. The true importance is that there was someone there to play and that for two or three hours you were able to watch or listen, and just focus on something outside of your life. That’s why we continue to pay athletes millions, that’s why the entire world continuously sends its stars overseas to compete. These people are willing to stake their ability to provide on the results of a competition. They give the rest of us           something to watch, because despite the standings and scores, you always get what you came for, a game.