Editorial: Why Sports Matter

I was watching highlights of the Iron Bowl (Alabama vs. Auburn) a couple of Saturdays ago and I had chills because of the way it ended. Never in my short life have I seen a game that meant so much end as dramatically as it did.

SportsCenter that morning showed reactions to the final play as it was developing with Auburn fans screaming in joy and happiness and Alabama fans standing in silence and disbelief. It got me thinking about how much sports really matter to a person, a city, a nation and the world.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela, who passed away last Thursday once said, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people.”

Phil Jackson won 13 NBA championships, two as a player and 11 as a coach. In his book Eleven Rings he compares the bond of a team to that of brotherhood that soldiers serving in a war have.

Jackson acknowledges that professional athletes don’t risk their lives every day like soldiers do but understands that to be successful, the same amount of love and connection has to apply.

“It takes a number of ingredients to win an NBA championship including the right mix of talent, creativity, intelligence, toughness and of course, luck. But if a team doesn’t have the most essential ingredient — love — none of those other factors matter,” said Jackson.

Sports aren’t just games and plays. Sports have the ability to teach many of life’s lessons.

“How hard you work in your individual sport will determine your performance,” said Mike Long, head coach of the Men’s Basketball team at Hudson Valley. “The more you put into it the more the reward. This applies to work, family, church, your social network, etcetera.”

People that surround sports who don’t play also impact the lives of people who do, making them understand that qualities of playing a sport can relate to everyday life.

“Sports play a big role in my life working in an athletic department,” said Justin Hoyt, assistant athletic director at Hudson Valley. “ I think the most important thing for me now is to help student-athletes grow athletically, academically and as people to help them succeed in life.”

“Sports are important to me because I have the opportunity make differences in the lives of young adults through athletics,” said Hoyt.

Those involved with sports or even those who have admired them from afar can credit sports as playing a major role in their life.

“I have been able to draw parallels to sports for most of my life. I don’t know that I would have wanted to be here today without them,” said Mike Long.

I am one of millions of proud New Yorkers, but, there are plenty of people who are a proud civilian of the state they live in. Rivalries between states are fairly common, but there is one thing that develops camaraderie amongst people who absolutely hate each other, and that’s sports.

“Many people gain great lifelong pleasure from the thrills and excitement of being a sport spectator, supporting favorite sports and teams and sharing rivalries with friends,” said Ronald Mulson, sports psychology professor at Hudson Valley.

My life would be very different without sports. I never would have graduated high school, I would have no motivation to do anything in life and I would not understand that I have a purpose in life, as all of us do.

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