Sports: A Field of Opportunities
Imagine a world where sports did not exist. Millions would not return home after a long day at work or school with the enthusiasm of watching their favorite teams and players compete. People would return home from their stressful jobs having one less thing to help alleviate stress. After all, life is about balance, and sports is the perfect way to counteract the ugliness and depression of real-world politics. Most days, like this world, would lose part of what makes them unique. There would be no Browns vs. Steelers rivalry to look forward to, no Monday or Thursday Night Football, no nights to look forward to seeing LeBron versus Giannis, or Kawhi versus Steph. There would be no March Madness, no World Series, and no Super Bowl to name a few. However my answer to the question of what sports means to the world is opportunities. Specifically, opportunities to connect with others, to make and achieve goals, and to have fun. Entertainment has been with people throughout time, and one of the first places to find it is in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. Ancient Greek sports were focused on competition between athletes, whereas Ancient Rome was focused on combat. However both have influenced peoples’ interests over time even as sports have continued to evolve. Since we are all related to people of those times, there have been interests passed down from generation to generation. For example, the competitive nature of the Greeks could be the reason we enjoy watching the best athletes compete in the playoffs, and in the Olympics. Likewise, the violence from the gladiators of Ancient Rome could be the reason that we enjoy watching the violent nature of the NFL. People in that time period celebrated their incredible physique in the form of entertainment, and this idea holds true today. After all, our bodies are meant for movement, not for sitting all day! The existence of sports has also allowed people to connect emotionally with their favorite teams and players. For this reason fans, too, feel the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat. Clevelanders felt just as excited about the Cavs winning the championship as they felt depressed with all of the infamous moments over the previous 52 years. I was not born during ‘The Shot,’ ‘The Drive,’ or ‘The Fumble,’ and I even feel the pain from those moments. Many superstar athletes are celebrities that we have a chance to learn about in other aspects of their lives due to social media. However, athletes can also be viewed as role models as well for their involvement away from their sports. From founding the I Promise School in Akron, to promoting awareness to racial injustice in America, LeBron James has been a consistent role model who has been able to use his success in basketball to build a social platform. Sports is also a great way to travel and see other parts of the country and the world. Many fans have taken vacation time to travel across the country and the world just to see their favorite teams and players compete. For many sports fans these are common items on bucket lists. Along with trying to visit all 50 states, I also have a goal of seeing games at all 30 MLB stadiums. When I had weeks off during the summer as an undergrad, my dad and I spent a week driving to see the Minnesota Twins, Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs, and the following year we checked off the New York Yankees and New York Mets. These trips were possible because the existence of baseball allowed us to have this goal on our bucket list. On the other hand, the existence of sports has helped stimulate the economy for many cities. Until this outbreak began, it was nearly impossible to imagine New York City without Broadway, Los Angeles without Hollywood, or Miami without the nightlife. Think about the billions of dollars that LeBron has generated for Cleveland, Miami, and Los Angeles just from his presence alone. Generally, when multiple industries are thriving, that means more jobs are available to cities. Today, Las Vegas without sports has not been the same since the pandemic began. Not only is it famous for its hotels, entertainment, nightlife, and even hiking, but mostly the casinos. Millions flock to the bright lights every year to test their luck not just in the casinos with blackjack and poker, but also in the sportsbook with betting on every sport you can think of. As a result Las Vegas has been able to generate billions, if not trillions of dollars every day from its casinos alone. Unfortunately, with sports on hold, Las Vegas is essentially a ghost town with empty casinos waiting to welcome back its patrons as visitors are eagerly waiting to return to the Entertainment Capital of the World to place their bets. Now imagine cities which have economies that rely heavily on one team. Some that come to mind are Oklahoma City, Portland, and Salt Lake City which each have an NBA team, but no other teams among the four major sports leagues. There are also many college towns that greatly benefit from their teams. Alabama football and Duke basketball are among programs that generate tremendous revenue for their universities which in turn helps the respective economies of the cities in which they are located. Furthermore, with the millions in revenue that sports programs have been able to generate, colleges have been able to award athletic scholarships to prospective student-athletes. As a result these student-athletes can focus on perfecting their skills to become a professional athlete, and/or work for their degree without having to worry about borrowing massive amounts of loans. Competing for scholarships is among factors that can motivate athletes to perform at their very best. Besides, sports can also teach valuable life lessons such as teamwork, determination, communication, and accountability. For this reason, it is important for the youth to be involved in as many sports as they can early on. Doing so can also help develop interests over time which goes a long way in today’s society. The more interests that someone has, the more options are available to them. Being involved in sports also helps develop friendships, and confidence. Another motivating factor for being involved in sports is to have fun. Not everyone who participates in sports has to do so professionally. There are plenty of recreational leagues composed of adults that love sports and want to continue playing as long as possible. As an undergraduate, I played indoor soccer, flag football, and baseball locally for the fun of it, and over the past two summers I have played in a co-ed softball league. In the end, I have enjoyed every minute of playing these sports; not just because they are fun, but because it was necessary. Ultimately, life is about balance, and sports provide a balance from stressful jobs and responsibilities. This is because mental health is just as important as both physical and emotional health. Without sports, it can be difficult for many people to maintain a healthy balance between these forms of wellness. Overall, the existence of sports has been beneficial to the world by providing all sorts of opportunities. It has led to cities thriving, people connecting with others, building social platforms, setting goals, and having fun. Sports have helped to bring out the best in people while providing opportunities for other lines of work including broadcasters! In conclusion, we can be thankful that it is possible to pursue a career toward our passion in covering sports.