The Blessing of Sports
Just like any year, 2015 has been a reminder of just how blessed I am when it comes to sports. My beloved Royals won the World Series, and on Christmas Day I played 27 holes of golf with my father-in-law in the 85 degree warmth of Florida. I can’t get enough of the NFL playoff picture, and those crazy KC Chiefs, whom I ruled out as having any chance of entering said picture, have rattled off 9 wins in row. The NBA mystique is finally changing to the point that families can watch again, now that ‘thugball’ is a thing of the past. My teenage son can actually follow players with strong faith backgrounds and still maintain is self-ascribed ‘cool factor’. A horse DIDN’T win SI’s “SportsPerson of the Year” award, and if it would have, I may have simply cashed in my chips and become a fan of curling. You know, the sport with ice, brooms, rubber-soled shoes and TV coverage that comes around every 4 years. It would’ve been that or counting bugs.
There are so many things I love about sports. The athleticism of the world’s best in their chosen craft. And the fact that I not only get to say and spell the word “proprioception”, but also realize it’s meaning and be able to watch it come to life in the slow motion, HD camera work of John Brenkus and his crew on ESPN’s ‘Sports Science”. There’s the raw tears of retiring athletes like Kobe Bryant, Jeff Gordon, Abby Wambach, Troy Polamalu, Steve Nash, Martin Brodeur, Tim Hudson and many others. In one press conference, these athletes took us back not only to their greatest of games, but where we were, who we were with and what we were going through at those times. They’ve created for us moments in time that we’ve associated with who we are and why we do what we do. They’re who we pictured we would be in our minds with the game on the line; bases loaded with nobody out, :01 left on the clock, the white flag signaling the final lap, etc. In just under 50 years on this earth, I’ve come to absolutely adore sports.
As a small, rambunctious boy whose only talent was to run fast, sports only even entered my fray as an escape from other areas of life that I was bent on forgetting, if only for a brief period of time. It wasn’t so much the competing as it was the acceptance of others. But, somewhere along the line, a passion was born. It grew into the heat of the battle, the willingness to be the one up to bat with the game on the line, the number called to take the last shot, the receiver of the Hail Mary to pull of the upset. It wasn’t the wins and losses, no matter what the masses say. It was the fight. If even just to have a chance at glory, let alone be the name echoed in victory. Sports were everything, seemingly more than food and breath and life, although everyone knows that’s not true. But to a kid who has that burning desire that no force of wind can snuff out, no amount of water can extinguish…it IS true. Sports was, and is….life.
Fast forward years and years. The glory days of youth gone, an amateur and professional career in the rearview mirror, the reality of strictly fandom have come full circle. The armchair QB I once mocked I now have become. The annoying yelling at the TV that made me leave the room now causes my bride to do the same. But I love it. It’s a blessing to me. But it’s different now. I’m a dad to 2 boys who love sports. They don’t love it because I played it, at any level, although being a former pro has it’s own ‘cool-factor’ with my boys among their peers. They love it because it brings them joy, and when it brings them joy, it brings me joy, and not because they succeed (a subjective term), but because they are healthy enough to run and jump and catch and throw and kick and laugh and scream and yell and….be joyful. My family has been blessed with healthy bodies, sound and strong, with minds that can think, words that can flow freely. We live in the greatest country on the planet, and yet we realize we are better than no one else. We have food to eat, shelter over our heads, and joy in our hearts in our faith in God. You see, just like every year, 2015 has given us reason to celebrate, and not just sports, but life. Sometimes, we realize just how blessed we are for the blessings sake, but sometimes, it takes a little reminder to open up a big reality. Sports do that for me, and I hope they do that for you too.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, and an amazing New Year in 2016. I pray you are blessed in so many areas of life, to the fullest extent. If you’re a sports fan like me, I hope you continue to enjoy them, and may they cause you, too, to reflect on just how wonderful you may have it!!