The Truth About My Obsession With Sports
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The Truth About My Obsession With Sports

Why sports mean more to me than just the action on the field.

The Truth About My Obsession With Sports
Robyn Beck, Getty Images

Last Sunday, the 2015 Special Olympics World Games came to a close in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, as athletes from 165 countries proudly walked into the stadium, packed with thousands of fans. Not every athlete received a medal, but each athlete was given a ribbon to symbolize that they competed in the games.

According the Los Angeles Times, more than 500,000 fans were in LA over the week to support the athletes. The week's events were also covered substantially by the sports-media giant, ESPN.

The Special Olympics has set out to allow athletes with intellectual disabilities to be able to compete in athletics. The first international Special Olympics Summer Games were held on July 20, 1968. The event provides passion, teamwork, a sense of community, and creates an overall culture of pride and positivity.

Of the eight days, Peru's swimming coach Julio Cuentas said, "All the colors and all the races are here. The world is changing because the light is here." He then pointed at his swim team and said, "All of this is light, each one."

As a whole, it summarizes exactly why I am such a huge sports fanatic.

Look, I know what most people think of me when they hear my rants about sports. "He's obsessed," "he has no life," and "what is this guy even talking about?" are generally the responses I get. I find them all to be offensive. I mean sure, I missed my junior prom because the NBA Playoffs were on, but besides that, I have a completely healthy love for sports.

Who am I kidding? When UVa lost their first game of the basketball season last year to Duke, I sat in my room for two hours in complete silence. When people bring up sports, I'm that guy that pulls out the stat sheet, high school analysis, and lecture anyone who wants to listen to my opinion.

For goodness sake, I have a "Remember the Titans" quote in my tagline.

Still, I promise I'm not crazy. Obsessed, sure. But not crazy.

If you can get past all my sports tangents and rants, you can actually start to see why I have a passion for sports. Like most fans of anything, sports is my release from reality. Though I've never been the athlete I created in video games, I've always found some sort of peace in sports, whether it's playing them, watching, or working an event.

For me, the results of games is not what makes me a passion sports fan. Sure, Seahawks fans may argue differently (seriously Pete, listen to Sandra Bullock next time), but there are things that go much deeper that make me such a huge fanatic.

1. Sports Allow Everyone to be Involved

Athletes come from various walks of life. As a result, sports have become a place of inclusion, the motto usually being, "If you can play, you can play." An athlete's race, gender, religion, socio-economic background, etc. doesn't matter any more. As Kenny Smith, former NBA player and current Inside the NBA analyst, said, "You can have your own thought process about things, but you still need to include and co-exist with other people.”

It's been 68 years since Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, and we're still celebrating this act of inclusion, because no one who wants to play should be told they aren't allowed to play.

Look no further than the rise of women in sports in America from the United States Women's National Team winning the Women's World Cup, to the shear dominance of the UFC that is Ronda Rousey, women are becoming more successful in sports. This also means that they are being included in the men's game too, as Becky Hammon proved by becoming the first female coach in the NBA. In recent weeks, two more females have been hired as coaches on men's professional teams.

For me, it's refreshing to be a fan that allows everyone to be involved. Sports is truly meritocracy at it's best. It's all about how you play. If you want to play, there are no bounds that should keep an athlete from playing besides their abilities on the field.

2. Sports Keep Us in Touch With Our Emotions

Yes, sports fans have the obvious emotions. "The thrill of victory" and the "agony of defeat," as ABC's Wide World of Sports always put it. Still, the emotions in sports go past just the initial joy and sorrow. Sometimes, sports can find a way to hit us a bit heavier. And when they do hit us heavy, the moments aren't always on the field.

Take the story of Devon Still and his daughter, Leah. Last June, Leah was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma, a rare pediatric cancer. She was five at the time. Devon, a defensive lineman, was trying to earn a spot on the Cincinnati Bengals roster. After hearing the news, the Bengals cut Still, then signed him to the practice squad, then reinstated him onto the roster, and committed all the proceeds from his jersey sales to go to fight pediatric cancer.

They were awarded with the Jimmy V Award at the 2015 ESPY Awards. While Leah was still in Cincinnati recovering from chemotherapy, watch his acceptance speech.

If you aren't somewhat stirred emotionally, frankly, I don't think you have emotions.

In 2006, a 17-year-old Jason McElwain was managing Greece Athena High School's basketball team. McElwain, who has autism, loved the game of basketball, and was beyond dedicated to his team. Realizing his hard work, head coach Jim Johnson decided to let him suit up for a game. With four minutes left in their final home game, and up big, McElwain got in the game.

And he went bonkers.

He dropped 20 points, including six three-pointers. What made this so special was that McElwain was the emotion of the crowd and his teammates. Each time he hit a shot, they erupted with joy for him. For one night, autism was not limiting what McElwain could do, and watching it, fans became filled with pride knowing that he was finally living his dream.

Sports have provided us with an abounding number of stories that make us all emotional. From the Still's strong bond on and off the field to McElwain's game of dominance, sports have the ability to make us laugh, cry, feel pain, and elation all at the same time.

3. Sports Give Us Hope Beyond the Field of Play

We live in a very negative world. From the Charleston Shootings to the Baltimore Riots, it is hard to try and have a positive outlook sometimes.

This is where sports become so valuable for our society.

When these tragedies occur, a sporting event is not going solve the issues at hand. On the other hand, sports have the power to help us heal. Not to say that we completely forget about the issues, but sports provide an opportunity to put them aside for just a few moments and be united with others, creating a chain of positivity that becomes a foundation for hope.

Two days after the horrific Boston Marathon Bombings, the NHL's Boston Bruins played a home game. Before every home game for the last 35 years, Rene Rancourt has sang the American and Canadian national anthems. Being the first major sporting event since the attack, the environment was already one of mourning.

Rancourt began to sing the Star Spangled Banner. Then, something amazing happened.


This moment wasn't just a crowd singing. It represented that the city of Boston, while still hurting, was going to be okay. They would heal, and they would do it together, united. As the country witnessed the prideful rendition, it brought us closer to the people of Boston, and gave us hope for the first time since the attacks.

And that hope came from sports.

The Miracle on Ice, George W. Bush's first pitch after 9/11 in Yankee Stadium, and many other moments in sports have given us that feeling. For one moment, we have hope. We can have something positive in our lives to help us move forward from the tragedies and hard times.

Yes, I am a sports fan. Is it an obsession? If you think crying when Derek Jeter retired is obsessive, then yes it is.

However, sports represent more to me than just the action on the field. They represent a celebration of how far our country has come in accepting others and including them. They bring out emotions in me that go far past the "thrill of victory" and "agony of defeat." Sports help me to find hope when hope seems to be far away.

When I watch the Special Olympics, I truly see the inclusion, emotion, and hope that makes sports more than just a score. So, the next time you hear me rant about sports, don't be scared. I'm not crazy.

I'm just a sports fan.

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    This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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