Wednesday, November 24, 2004

In Defense of Sports

Do not be put off by the title of this piece. I am not going to come off as some sort of apologist for those thugs in the NBA. I think that event has been well-documented, and the whole lot of them should be banned from the game. That is not the point of this little diatribe.

My point is to acknowledge the importance of sports in American society today, and why sports should be an integral part of all our lives. Our children need sports.

Physical fitness is becoming less important in our society. I think athletes give us something to shoot for in terms of fitness. Trying to look like Alex Rodriguez is not necessarily a bad thing, if it makes one exercise a bit. We need that sort of thing.

Professional athletes make tremendous amounts of money. I have no problems with that. Athletes do not have long careers, so they need to make more money during their shorter working lifespans. If they are smart, they realize they are set up for the rest of their lives, and plan accordingly. Most do not, so they end up running dope, and go to prison. So be it.

The amount of money they make is staggering to us normal people. Again, this is not a problem. I am a firm believer in capitalism, and they would not make such money if the market could not bear it. As a case in point, look at the NHL. There has been no hockey this year because the players are demanding more than what the market will bear. While hockey is very popular, it is not nearly as popular as basketball, football, or baseball. So the players are going to starve this year. It serves them right for being greedy. The NBA will experience the same thing, once the players start demanding more than what the owners can afford to pay. So let’s be happy for the players. It’s nice to know that someone with a particular talent can make a ton of money. It gives us all hope.

Let us also realize that sports sometimes shows the absolute best in humanity. There is nothing like watching a team get kicked around for the first half of a game, and then make a miracle comeback. That stirs the human spirit, and teaches us all to never give up; no matter the odds. Those sorts of moments make us all glad to be alive.

Forget the pros for a minute. Let us instead focus on what sports means to our children. Athletics teaches children what the world is really about. One must win to survive. The best at something will be rewarded. The strongest, fastest, and smartest prevail in athletics. Nobody cares who came in second place. Work hard, and be rewarded.

That is life in a nutshell. Sports are a macrocosm of life. Failure is not an option, and one must be the best they can be in order to survive.

This message is not getting across in schools other than in sports. Schools have been inundated with touchy-feely liberal feel-good crap which absolutely ruins children. We don’t want to give children f’s because it might hurt their feelings. Well, boo-hoo. If one fails something, feelings deserve to be hurt. The kids who get A’s deserve them. They are smarter than the other children, or study harder. Either way, the talent and hard work is rewarded.

The children of character see failure as a motivator. Sure, it hurts. It just brings a person of character back stronger the next time. Or if all else fails, it forces them to acknowledge their limitations, and go on to something they can be good at. Not everyone is going to be good in math or English. We need to identify who is good at what, and allow them to focus their energy on things they are good at. It will make their lives much more productive.

The sports arena is about the only place that will teach a child these hard truths. Life really is about winning. Hard work and effort will be rewarded. Crush your enemies, or they will crush you.

Do I think sports are overemphasized? Probably so. I’d like to see more kids competing on grades instead of the gridiron. Nevertheless, that does not detract from the importance of sports. Competition is what life is all about. If it is not learned in the classroom, it is learned on the battlefield of sports.

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