Why Sports Matter

More than meaningless entertainment

In Ancient Greece, when the Olympics began, nothing else was quite as important. Even wars would be temporarily put on hold to accommodate the games, a truce known as “ekecheira” (translated: holding of hands). To the Greeks, the Olympic games represented the height of physical achievement. Athletes were as close to godliness as they could hope to see, and in a society that valued physical accomplishment so highly, this sentiment only made sense.

People may argue that we no longer value sports the way these ancient people did, but that just misses the mark, instead clanging off the crossbar for a no-goal.

Consider that billions of tickets are sold to sporting events each and every year.

Consider that sport’s broadcasts account for more than half of the highest rated television broadcasts each year.

And consider that people don their favorite team and player gear just about everywhere. I’ve seen people wearing jerseys in Sunday mass. Heck, I’ve worn a jersey to Sunday mass before (it was football Sunday and my team played right after, no shame).

For every news network out there, there are several sports news networks.

Youth participation in sports is growing, especially in less mainstream sports such as lacrosse, signaling that sports is not an industry that is going away soon and most likely will grow to include even more competitions.

People often classify sports as meaningless entertainment, the kind of escapism provided by the movie industry. However, this kind of view simply undermines the value of what you are seeing on the field. The best athletes work tirelessly to hone their craft. Take Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who famously arrives at the team facility before 5 am every day to work out before any other players arrive. Or look at Hall of Fame basketball player Pete Maravich, who was known for dribbling a basketball everywhere he went, whether he was in school or even riding his bike.

The product on the field, therefore (and you’ll see why I use the word product in a moment), is nothing short of the culmination of a lifetime of work for many of these players, like an artist completing his/her masterpiece. Sports make great art, and great theater. They also make money.

As many well know, the salaries for professional athletes have swelled to astronomical proportions. The athletes, however, are not the only ones sports keep employed. Consider sportswriters, stadium staff, team executives, sporting goods vendors, sports talk show hosts, and the list goes on.

Furthermore, larger sporting events like the World Cup or the Olympics bring unparalleled amounts of tourism revenue and publicity to countries, which is why so many submit bids to host these mega-events.

I can never really adequately explain why sports matter. For every reason I might give, there are several reasons against it. But winning some kind of argument was not what this article is about.

It’s about the times when the whole family gathers around the television screen with their jerseys on for the big game. It’s about the time when a father finds out he is going to have a son and hangs his old baseball glove on the nursery doorknob. It’s about every parent who has ever had the privilege of coaching his or her kid through Little League. It’s about every group of strangers united by nothing more than the name on the front of their shirts. That’s why it all matters.

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