Archive for Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sport events stir spirit

April 26, 2012

If there is one statement that is true of people in the United States, as well as most other countries, it is that we love sports and they play a big role in our lives.

Take last weekend for example, there were many, many sports events within a few minutes of Bonner Springs, Edwardsville and Basehor. In my case, my sporting weekend started out by attending the Kansas Relays in Lawrence. There were well over a thousand participants from high schools, junior colleges and four-year colleges in addition to unattached competitors. There was a good crowd on hand to cheer on competitors. Certainly it was a colorful event with a panorama of bright uniforms. While track can move slowly, there is nothing more thrilling than watching a runner come from behind and win. Yes, Bonner Springs and Basehor-Linwood had entrants.

Speaking of attendance, one man looked around the stadium and quipped that “this is more than we draw for many football games.”

On the way home, I went past the Bonner Springs baseball diamond and there was a game going on. I had to wonder how many thousands of Americans were enjoying high school sports in addition to those attending major events. I also noted that there were a lot of kids practicing soccer. I’m sure there were baseball and softball practices somewhere too.

I really think that you can count exercise at the YMCA and the lot was full. Literally thousands of area persons were involved in sports activities.

Oh, yes, I can’t forget the NASCAR race was going on at the speedway bringing multi-thousands to Wyandotte County. Yes, the races will put millions in local coffers.

In addition, there was a Kansas City Royals game that night which drew about 25,000 spectators. The Royals, a team which cannot seem to find a way to win, are averaging about 23,000 per game. I completed my sports weekend by attending KC-Toronto Blue Jays game on Sunday afternoon.

There are many opportunities for sports fans in the metro area. I enjoy the T-Bones and Sporting Kansas City has a wonderful new stadium and is off to a great start. And, my friends in Missouri wouldn’t want me to forget the indoor soccer, minor league hockey and arena football teams.

One great thing about sports is that there is something new every season. We have the Chiefs, high school and college football and during the frigid winter months there is basketball.

It has been estimated that we spend up to $73 million annually on sports, so it is a big contributor to our economy. Last Saturday, there was a CYO track meet at t he high school. I have to wonder how much money was spent last weekend on sports in our area.

Don’t think it is just Americans who are sports nuts. In 1991, the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team drew more than four million fans. I have seen crowded stadiums in England and other parts of the world.

So, why do we love sports? One commentator suggested it is because sports aren’t scripted. We have no idea who will win and some times, the underdog wins. I really believe that we all love underdogs. Certainly that is one of the reasons the “Rocky” movies were popular. We love to cheer for the good guy in movies such as “Chariots of Fire,” “Hoosiers” and “The Natural.”

We also like to see a “come from behind” win, too. It seems to me that in sports, as well as life, we can overcome the odds and with hard work and dedicated effort we can come from behind and solve our problems.

Being a sports fan gives us hope. We all believe that this will be the “season” that we win. In life, we believe that this may be the year that we reach financial success. Often it doesn’t happen, but, well, there is always next year.

In my case, what I like about sports is that it gives me something to look forward to. I don’t care if it’s a Royals game or one of my grandsons’ athletic events, it gives me a bright spot for the week.

There is only one problem with sports fans and that is they take it too seriously. Radio commentator Don Fortune ended his daily talk show with the reminder “it’s’ only a game.” Certainly it is true that sports can brighten our lives, but a loss at any level shouldn’t be devastating. What I took from competing in football in school wasn’t the wins or losses, it was the friendships and joy of competing. I have a hard time remembering the scores, other than we usually lost.

Yes, sports are very important. They give us fun and they make huge contributions to the economy. I’m finishing this column now, so that I can get ready to go to a ball game. Have fun at whatever sporting event that you attend.

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