People can be snobs about a lot of things. If you like that band or that singer or that genre of music, your taste is invalid. If you willingly saw that movie and admit to liking it, you’re a peon. And don’t even get me started on what kind of person you are if you like sports! Or even if you like that sport more than this other one…
Personally, I’ve always been of the “live and let live” mindset when it comes to things like this. You like your thing, I like mine, it’s all cool. If you don’t like my thing, I don’t really care. But I’ve learned that this outlook on things is apparently unusual. And more than once I’ve been judged for things I love, even though my love of these things in no way affects anybody but me. And I just don’t get why people care.
Most recently, and mostly because my interests have been almost 100% zeroed in and restricted to this area for about a year now, this applies to sports, and the fact that I love sports and enjoy watching sports and going to see sports in person and want to talk about sports with people. SPORTS!
But every once in a while I’ll get blindsided by somebody telling me how stupid they think sports are and how annoying it is that I like it so much and why can’t you just shut up about sports?! Because sports are stupid, played by stupid people for stupid people. It’s just a bunch of dumb jocks running around pushing each other and it’s ridiculous that people get so excited over a guy throwing a ball to another guy who catches it and runs down a field to a certain area of grass where he earns points for his team blah blah what does this say about the state of our society blah blah blah the dumbing down of the masses blah.
And now I’m just making myself yawn.
I love sports. I LOVE sports. I love them because they’re fun to watch. And if that were the only reason I loved them, that would be okay! What’s wrong with watching some dudes who have dedicated their lives to becoming the best of the best at their favorite game show off for some people who like to cheer for them? Nothing, that’s what.
Here’s my disclaimer: I realize that there are things about sports that are problematic. No, athletes or coaches should not be excused from justice when they commit a crime just because they’re good at their game. And I don’t (and don’t want to) know any sports fans who think that. And then there are the things like rioting after an important game, or assaulting fans of a rival team just because they cheer for someone else. That is a love of sports taken to a dangerous, obsessive extreme, and I don’t condone any that at all. In fact, I actively condemn it, and so does every single one of the sports fans I have ever met.
But that’s not what this is about. And if you’re under the impression that that is what sports is about, you are sadly mistaken, and really missing out.
Here’s why I love sports:
These athletes play their hearts out. They go out on the field, or the ice, or the court, and they play their hearts out for the people in the stands. Most of the time, these people completely uproot their lives to move to that city, where the team that picked them plays, all in pursuit of their dream of being a professional athlete in the top leagues in the world. That’s admirable, to me. That’s a dedication that deserves to be rewarded with dedication – the dedication of a fan, someone who cheers for them and tells them before, during, and after games that what they’ve spent their lives working towards was worth it.
I love the camaraderie that comes with being a fan. Regardless of your gender, race, religion, politics – when you’re in the stands, all you see are fellow fans, and you all want the same thing. Sports can unite people like nothing else can. Anyone here in Denver over the last week is well aware of that – the Broncos made the playoffs and beat a team nobody thought they could beat, and the giddiness was infectious. Everywhere you went, it was easier to count the number of people not wearing Broncos gear than the ones who were, because everyone was wearing Broncos gear. That team brought this city together in a way that hasn’t happened in a long time, and it was kind of magical. (And don't even get me started on what happened to Baylor when Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy.)
I love the feeling that comes with watching your team win. I love the edge-of-your-seat, heart-pumping antsy-ness that happens right before the buzzer sounds at the end of a close game. I love the hard hits, I love the quick wristers and the 100 mph slapshots, I love the ugly goals, I love the goal celebrations, I love the jaw-dropping saves. I love the touchdown passes, the home runs, the slam dunks, I love it all. I love the enthusiasm of the people in the game and in the stands and I love how it connects everyone. I even love, in a different way, the losing – because every time you get sad about a loss, it reminds you to appreciate how beautiful it is when you win. And I love that there’s always the hope of the next game.
If you don’t like sports, I don’t mind. I don’t, I promise. But if you’re writing it off because you think it’s just a bunch of guys running around in front of a mindless crowd for no reason, I hope you reconsider that stance, because it is, has always been and always will be so much more.
And that is all I have to say about that.