Why We Love Sports

October 20, 2010
I was shooting hoops with my little brother the other day when he posed to me a question as loaded as a room full of NRA supporters. “Why do people love sports?” I stopped mid-dunk and for once was at a loss for words.

“Uh, I’m not really sure,” I replied. He did not question me any further, perfectly content with spending the rest of the afternoon seeing how many beehives he could hit with the basketball without getting stung. The question plagued my thoughts for the rest of the afternoon. I racked my brain for answers; reading every sports book I own, replaying every saved overtime game on our DVR, gazing at the posters that adorn my walls.
I am not naive, I am aware that there are many people in this world who do not care about sports. They worry about where they are going to sleep that night rather than who they are going to start for Fantasy Football that week. Many people find solace in music or arts, rather than in a walk-off home run. And to all those people who don’t find sports interesting or important I say that’s perfectly fine. But to the people who do stay up until the wee hours praying for triple overtime the night before school, the rest of this piece is for you.
Why do people love sports? It’s simple really. We love to see tapes of Jordan in his prime, draining jumper after jumper without breaking a sweat. We love to see Northern Iowa beating Kansas, USA Hockey beating Russia, Underdog beating Undefeated. We love to watch pitchers like Roy Halladay of the Phillies make big league hitters look like little league chumps. We love how “Get some glasses ump!” or “How much is the other team paying ya ref?” never gets old. We love watching little giants like Spud Webb (5’7), Earl Boykins (5’5), or even Muggsy Bogues (5’3) play with the big boys, inspiring short guys everywhere to reach for new heights. We love to hear stories from our grandfathers about the “good old days” when there was no Sportscenter Top Ten Plays, no “tweeting” or “youtubing”, when it wasn’t all about the money, just the love of the game.
We love comparing guys like Kobe and Lebron to Michael Jordan, then realizing that it’s impossible, he was just too good. We love watching the sport of Golf develop into a young man’s game, with guys like Rory McIlroy (21), Rickie Fowler (22), and Jason Day (23) leading the charge. We love nation against nation in the Olympics or the World Cup, getting to chant “U-S-A!” without anyone ever getting tired of it. We love crying at moments like when Phil Mickelson dedicated his PGA tour win to his wife recovering from breast cancer, or Brett Favre throwing four touchdown passes the day after his father died and saying “I know he was watching me tonight.” We love to see the legacies of Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle live on, while secretly praying that the ones of Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire just disappeared.
We love to hear the March Madness theme song, the Monday Night Football countdown, the CBS sports jingle. We love doing the Tiger Woods fist pump for anything from throwing a crumpled up piece of paper into a trashcan, to nailing a tough twenty foot putt on a twenty dollar Par-3 Course. We love how there’s really nothing quite like a good tailgate burger before a college football game. We love not being embarrassed about having seen Rocky over thirty times and Rudy over a hundred. We love closing our eyes and listening to announcers such as Joe Buck, Marv Albert, or Jim Nantz describe games in ways we have never heard before. We even love it when Dick Vitale screams in our ears “Yea Bab-yyyyyyyyy!”
We love paying 15 bucks for the cheap seats, then sneaking down to better ones when all the non-diehards have left. We love the Gridiron, the Diamond, and the Court. We love counting down the clock with the others, “Five…Four…Three…” We love 4th and inches. We love to see a little kid’s eyes light up after a random stranger catches a foul ball and hands it to him. We love pickup basketball, wiffle-ball in the backyard, and two-hand touch. We love when the only phrase that fits the play is, “Wow”. We love how our Sunday attire is not suit and tie, but football jersey and hat. We love penalty kicks, overtime, sudden death, and extra innings. We love rooting for our teams, no matter how bad they might be.
We love our heroes when they succeed, and forgive them when they falter. We love the playoffs, the post-season, and the bowl games. We love how just saying the words, “So, who’s your favorite team?” can lead to a life-long friendship or a heated argument. We love trying to bend it like Beckham. We love when, for one beautiful moment, an entire stadium is in perfect harmony in their chant of “Air-Ball”. We love memorizing baseball cards, putting up posters, or showing off an autograph to your friends as they “ooh” and “ahh”. We especially love how this piece could go on forever.
I found my brother the next day and told him all these things. “Does that answer your question?” I asked, exhausted.
“Yea sure,” he replied. “Now can you please get your bat so we can teach those bees a lesson?”
I smiled, “Yea Bab-yyyyyyy!”





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