Archive for Friday, September 21, 2001

What if there were no sports

September 21, 2001

In the past week and a half, as the nation mourned, the sports world was put on hold. As a person whose life is dripping with sports stench, this was an extremely unusual thing for me, but not once did I complain.

Considering what happened on Tuesday, Sept. 11, it seemed to make sense for the sports world to stop after all, the rest of the world did.

During the countless hours of time I spent in front of the television watching and fearing the news in amazement, I continuously heard a phrase uttered that seemed to hit home with me. That phrase was three simple words: sports don't matter.

Sure, in a time such as this, sports don't seem to be quite as important. And sure, in the grand scheme of life and existence, what happens on a baseball diamond or at the 20-yard-line doesn't move mountains. But, does that make it fair to say that sports don't matter? Maybe to some it does, but to me, I'm not such an easy sell.

For my column this week, I tried to think of what life would be like without sports. Aside from the fact that I might not have a job, I found some startling results.

Without sports what would children play? Is tag not a form of sport? Do kickball and jump rope not produce better athletes? Are fathers and sons not bonded by sports by a game of catch when nothing else bonds them?

But forget the act of sports for a moment. Let's look at some sports moments some considered to be great moments in world history that would not have existed.

Miracles, like the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team's victory against the USSR, would not have happened. Bobby Thompson's "shot heard round the world" would've been silent. Hank Aaron's 715th home run wouldn't have been tallied and Mark McGwire's 70th would've simply been another number.

Heroes like Mickey Mantle, Vince Lombardi, Larry Bird, Tiger Woods and countless others, would have just been people.

Michael Jordan wouldn't have been MJ or His Airness. Instead he would've just been Mike, or Mr. Jordan. Without sports "Magic" would've been pulling a rabbit out of your hat and the Super Bowl would've been the big dish children fight over to eat their cereal out of.

I have no problem with putting sports on the back burner for a week, 10 days, even a month. But when we go as far as to say that sports are not important. That, to me, is alarming.

Sports are part of the American way. Sports offer an escape from reality when it is needed. Sports present a way to relate for people with nothing in common. And above all, sports are full of heroes and heroes encourage our children to dream.

So next time you hear someone say sports are not important, take a minute and think what life would be like without them.

Trust me, they'll seem important then.

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