The Deeper Reason: Why We Love Sports
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The Deeper Reason: Why We Love Sports

There's one overshadowing, undeniable reason.

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The Deeper Reason: Why We Love Sports
Sports Illustrated

We kicked the soccer balls and couldn't kick the joy it gave us. We threw the footballs and couldn't throw away the passion it festered in us. We shot the basketballs and couldn't shoot down our perpetual hoop dreams. We caught the baseballs and got caught up in the joy of the game. We grew up watching them, playing them, and loving them. But why we love sports isn't just because of the entertainment we constantly receive or the camaraderie we consequently experience. Sports bring us something far deeper... something far more connected than we often see. We love them for it. We eat, sleep, breathe and consume what sports offer for one reason that overshadows all else.

We love sports because of the humanity that lies within them.

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The recent death of Muhammad Ali points to one of the best examples of humanity within sports because he was undoubtedly one of the best humans to exist in sports. You take a person who not only had talent, but personality and heart, who altered how we view an entire sport and time period. Anyone who lived that time period is graced with being able to partake in history just by sharing the same chunk of years as someone who boasted such greatness. But the humanity doesn't lie in the way Ali swung, or the way he stooped over Sonny Liston; the humanity lies within the way Ali used his talents to call attention to other humans and human issues. He used his determination and powerful personality to set an example for how to stand up for what you believe in and settle for nothing less than that. Ali preached the case for the goodness of humanity: that "service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth." We were enticed by his performance in the ring, but enlightened by his humanity out of it.

We love sports because of the humanity that lies within them.

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It seems as though today, the primadonna-era is long gone and the era of being charitable, kind ambassadors for mankind through sports is here. LeBron James provides an example of using fame and fortune for the good of humanity: his foundation is spending $41 million to send inner-city kids in Akron, Ohio – his hometown – to college. LeBron's story is a success story in itself; an impoverished African-American boy moving over eleven times before even starting high school, accompanied only by his single mother, makes it to the NBA straight out of high school. But he continues the success story by giving others the chance to achieve their dreams in college, something he never even did. The humanity doesn't lie within the way LeBron dunks; the humanity lies within the way LeBron uses his success to further the possibility of future success for others. His service to his hometown inspired Akron teens and awed the rest of us.

We love sports because of the humanity that lies within them.

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With the Summer Olympics approaching, we're reminded of a time where all walks of life meet to compete. History's been made at the Olympics for decades upon decades, and more people worldwide have tuned into these events than any others. We become patriots for our country just by watching from miles away, not only for the wins produced and records set, but for the sheer pride that the athletes show for being a part of it all. I could point out a million examples for America alone, ranging from the 1980 USA Men's Hockey Team's "Miracle on Ice" to the 2012 USA Women's Soccer Team defeating Japan for the Gold. It's the most human story: hard work bringing together athletes under the same nation and thereafter fans under the same nation – not to mention the overall support of world class competition. The humanity doesn't lie in the games; the humanity lies in the people.

We love sports because of the humanity that lies within them.

No matter the type of game, we love sports for the deeper stories found behind them all. There will always be very human stories in very human events and sports weave these two together in ways we may not even realize. So to all fans, players, and humans alike: may we always remember the love for sports goes back to a love for humanity – and may it never fade.

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