Throughout our Political Science class, we have examined many aspects of sports. From readings examining why we play games, all the way to tying in disabilities and gender differences in sports, we have covered a broad spectrum. People ranging from Huizinga to Hobbes and Giamatti to LaVaque-Manty have analyzed the subject, providing layers of complexity most have considered. However, in times of tragedy, these analyses become unimportant, and sports revert back to a simple, friendly oasis among a world of harsh and hateful truths.
Last week, a tragedy rocked the world once more. In Ottawa, an attack that killed a guard of the Canadian National War Memorial occurred. This shocked the nation, as all brutal attacks of this nature do. Canada was left in mourning. Only a few days later, the first hockey game to occur in Ottawa was to be played. Before the game between the Ottawa Senators and the New Jersey Devils, both in the NHL, a pre-game ceremony was carried out to remember those fallen in the attack.
It was at the time that I saw this that I noticed something interesting. In a tragedy that affects not only a major city, but also a whole nation, many are left without knowing how to heal. The emotional pains remain, and many find it hard to overcome. It is at this time that many turn to sports. The simplicity of sports acts as a universal bonding method. Even though the games we play may be different, the concept remains the same. People love sports because they offer an escape, common ground, and a place to let go of the troubles life brings.
In the reading of Dunning, we discussed how amateurism is part of what makes sports so appealing. Everyone can play sports due to the beautiful concept of amateurism. Everyone can escape from problems by playing sports. While not everybody plays sports for this reason, many do. Prime examples of people who play sports to escape harshness of life can be found in many underprivileged areas. Whether it is kids in third world countries playing soccer, or kids in urban America playing basketball (pictured below), sports are used by countless numbers of people as a sort of therapy to escape the cruelties life bring.
Another example of sports as a remedy for tragedy can be seen annually for the September 11th Anniversary. Baseball stadiums hold memorials for those fallen in the attacks. This shows the healing process a community, state, nation, and world can go through together via sports. This is the same process that started my interest in the healing sports bring when I saw the situation in Ottawa. From Breast Cancer Awareness being demonstrated during pink-games in major sports to honoring members before games, many examples are clear regarding the power sports have.
Despite all of the large-scale examples of sports being used to help massive amounts of people, there are small-scale scenarios as well. In Mika LaVaque-Manty’s article, he discussed disabilities and the fight people are putting up in order to allow the disabled to compete equally. This leads to the possibility of another scenario. Perhaps the disabled find such a passion in sports because it allows for them to channel passion and energy into something. Maybe they love competing so much because it is their method of coping, and they have become addicted to the medicine sports can offer. Clearly, sports can be used to heal not only in the large scheme of things, but also on the small level as well.
After reading so many texts discussing the complexities of sports one may dismiss this article as being trivial and oversimplifying of a complex subject. However, I urge you to consider my point of view. I acknowledge the fact that sports are a sophisticated topic, but the point at hand is how all the difficult aspects go out the window in times of tragedy and pain. People gather around sports when they are in pain because it is a simple, human connection. Sports allow people of all nationalities and types to laugh together, cry together, rejoice together, and mourn together. Regardless of age or disability, skill or knowledge, people are able to share mutual feelings during a game. Life seems far away during the competition, and joy found in the game reminds us that we can make it through anything. It is the simple things that make life in a difficult environment worth while, and the simplicity of sports in the midst of complicated elements makes people love the games they play.