By: Sammy Clough, Sports Columnist
The freshly cut green grass, engulfed by the sounds of popping leather and the crack of the bat, blooming magnolias preparing the way for The Masters, the intensifying playoff races in a sprint to the NBA finish line.
These are the signs that spring has sprung and sports are good.
I am often posed with the question: why do you care so much about sports? Generally, my response includes a deep dive into baseball analytics thats shows yes, maybe we are overshifting, and yes, we should trust the eye-test more. However, this answer doesn’t often strike a chord of inspiration with whomever asks why I love sports.
The simplified reason why I love sports is this: sports matter.
The number of championship banners a franchise can accumulate is not why sports matter. The Braves won 14 straight division titles and yet my favorite Braves team is a 2007 team that finished third in their division.
“Teams change, but championships are forever” is a common phrase thrown around after a team finally reaches the pinnacle of their sport. Yes, obviously each championship team will get their name in the history books forever (unless of course that team is the 2013 Louisville Basketball team), but I would argue that the team itself is what lasts.
Every year, championship teams are disbanded or changed in some way for the next season. But I believe the memories of those particular people in that particular locker room are what last a lifetime. This joy that players and fans have reminiscing on their favorite teams, despite their season outcome, is why sports matter.
The way in which sports bring people together is why sports matter. If you have ever been to any game with a playoff atmosphere, you know what I’m talking about.
When I was in middle school, I had the chance to go to a Cubs-Cardinals game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. I sat in my seat tucked away behind the third baseline, sporting a Cubs hat I had bought that morning. My dad, brother and I kept to ourselves watching this mid-July game. However, as soon as the Cubs put runs on the board, the fans around us, hooping and hollering, began giving us high-fives, slaps on the back and talked to us like we were a part of the Chicago family.
This stuck with me. The camaraderie and emotional attachment felt immediately after seeing a random person wearing your team’s hat is why sports matter. Teams mirror families both for the players and for the fans. Sports make us argue– Lebron/Jordan, Steroids in the hall of fame, designated hitters in the NL, to name a few. But bigger than that, the way I feel when I’m surrounded by thousands of others cheering for the same thing I am; that’s how I know sports matter.
You still may think I’m a sports-geek, and that sports don’t mean anything. But I’d like to turn it around on you. Try it out. Support a team. Even if it’s for one month, see what it’s like to join the fans and pledge loyalty to a team. And if you don’t know which team, Furman is a great place to start. With one month left this school year, I urge you to sport some purple and cheer on the Paladins the rest of the year.
If you really go for it, I promise you’ll understand.