Thursday, August 8, 2013

What's Wrong With Sports: Ignoring the Good of Sports

Yesterday when I was supposed to be doing work and preparing lessons, I naturally found my iPhone in my hand and the Facebook app open.

I know, shocker.

As I scrolled down my news feed full of the usual picture postings and status updates and memes, I saw a rare posting from an old college friend, Jordan Crolly. His status update was titled "Top 10 Reasons I Don't Want [People] Making Negative Comments on My Facebook Statuses Anymore."

I usually only hear from him twice a year (the weeks where his Giants play my Cowboys). So naturally I was intrigued to see what negative comments he had been getting.

As I read through his post, I just lit up. I loved and agreed with every sentence.

"Top 10 reasons I don't want [people] making negative comments on my Facebook statuses anymore.

1) Football gives young men an outlet for their aggression in a safe and controlled environment.
2) Football teaches young men the importance of discipline, sacrifice, hard work and commitment to something greater than themselves, the team.
3) Football helps keep young men off the streets, off drugs and out of gangs. It also provides many young men with father figures who otherwise may not have one.
4) Football often gives "dumb jocks" a reason to care about school. If you don't pass, then you don't play has motivated many to actually learn something.
5) Football not only provides scholarships to thousands of young men every year, many of which may not be able to afford it otherwise, but often times the funds generated from a university's football program support other less popular sports, therefore providing more of the aforementioned benefits.
6) Football gives families something to enjoy together, especially fathers and sons. In my experience growing up, my dad worked a lot, but I could always count on watching the games with him on weekends. I will always cherish those times.
7) Football can help you make friends! With 50 or so guys on a team, it isn't hard to find a few guys you have something in common with. I've found that football helped me make a lot of good friends, as well as a smaller group of very great friends that I think of as brothers to this day.
8) Football and other professional sports helped progress the civil rights movement, decrease racial tension in the country and further integrate white and black culture.
9) Football is fun! I've had some great times in my life, but few compare to the months I spent every year with my friends sweating our asses off in the summer, freezing our butts of in the winter, pushing our bodies further than any of us had ever pushed them. And we didn't even win that many games!
10) Football is great exercise and gets kids to be active and recognize that healthy physical activity is important. The simple act of exercising can get people to eat healthier, feel happier and have more self confidence.

There are probably 100 more reasons why football is awesome, but these are the first 10 that came to mind.

Peace and Love."

However, when I got to the end, I realized something was wrong. If this is what makes football (and sports in general) so great, then how could he possibly have negative comments about it? How can something so amazing and beneficial lead to people having ill-feelings towards it?

Then I remembered what I heard on repeat through the night on SportsCenter. The topics were: Alex Rodriguez, Johnny Manziel, Aaron Hernandez, repeat.

That led me to post a response:

"Sadly those ten are starting to take a back seat to #11....

11). Football is so important that its players are worshiped like gods starting at the middle and high school level. By the time they make it to the college level, they feel entitled to get anything they want. When they turn pro, they have the money to splurge like never before, and too many never learned anything from the free education to spend intelligently. And then you end up with some of the greatest football players ever (including new HoF Warren Sapp) as a bankrupt man.

Football is great! But let's remember that it's a game and stop putting these guys on pedestals. Maybe we'll have fewer Warren Sapp and Aaron Hernandez type players."

But it was obvious. Jordan was not talking about superstars gone wrong. He was talking about players growing to men. He was trying to remind us that those great stories still exist, even if we never hear about them. Thank you, Mr. Crolly.

The global media is so caught up in what's wrong with sports that they neglect the truly great stories that happen every day.

THAT is truly what's wrong with sports.

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