April 9, 2004

The opportunities sports afford us

"You're watching the women's basketball finals? Why?" someone asked rhetorically on Tuesday night.

"I love sports, and I happen to be a fan of the generally dunk-free women's game," I replied.

"Women's athletics suck."

"Wanna fight?"

I'm a sports fan. I'm not just a fan of baseball or hockey, even though they take up 90-percent of my attention. I love athletics as a field.

One of the most amazing characteristics of sports is the wide variety of interests they appeal to. Some love them because of the competition and athleticism. Others love them because of the history and statistics. I have loved sports all of my life for those reasons, but just recently I discovered the biggest reason to be a fan: for the opportunity they provide.

Athletics is one of those few fields that allow people of different ages, classes, sexes, and races the chance to work hard and excel at something. I really don't believe I'm romanticizing things by saying that. Few people ever get to make a career out of playing, but many get a chance to get an education and, at the very least, have that one moment that makes them feel like they're on top of the world. I loved the feeling of everybody pulling for me to get a hit on the baseball field. Everybody loves that feeling.

For that reason, I don't understand why people constantly try to put down certain athletes. I've heard of professors at this school who think that we shouldn't have intercollegiate athletics. Even many of those who do support having athletics here, don't actually support the athletics here.

Yet think about what a lot of Maroons would lose without sports here. Maybe they would lose their greatest passion or their feeling of community. Whatever the case, there would be a lot less opportunities to do something great at this school.

When WUSA, the American women's soccer league, closed down last year, it was a terrible thing because it meant a lot of young female soccer players out there had one less thing to hope for. A lot of people just labeled the news irrelevant and moved on, but I really do miss the chance to see some really cool women do some great things on the pitch.

I'll admit that I don't like all sports equally, but I'm progressing to the point where I do. There are games you can see right on campus each week, and there are hundreds of athletes to whom you can talk. Take that opportunity, and see if you catch the fever as well.