It's Just a Game

We had the opportunity to see some family over the last weekend, and they showed me something that made me very happy to be a part of sports as a whole.  If you haven't ever heard of "The Wave" that occurs at the Iowa Hawkeye football games, I suggest you look at the video posted.  Basically, the whole stadium, players and coaches included, take some time at the end of the first quarter to turn to the newly built children's hospital that overlooks the stadium and wave to the children who have gathered to see the game.  I'd heard a little bit about this event a while ago and, like many others, thought that it was really neat and moved on.  This time I took a little bit of time to think about it and what this really means to the big picture.

As my mind is churning, and still is while I write this, the main feeling I have is pride that something in sports can have this much impact on the real world.  Like the title says, it is always just a game.  It doesn't matter what level, what sport, how much money is involved; it is and always will be something created for our enjoyment.  Yet it has that unique quality to allow us to have experiences beyond what we may normally have.  It allows us to experience feelings that people often can't find: accomplishment, togetherness, pride.  People ask why coaches want to coach, why players want to play through difficulties, why stadiums can be filled with thousands of people for a 2-3 hour event.  Here's your answer.  A lot of us are looking for something and sports have this funny way of filling that void.

Now let's look at the flip side.  The children watching these players and fans wave up at them feel motivated and inspired to keep fighting.  They feel that the acknowledgement of those people in the stadium carries weight, but like coach Ferentz says in the video, those children are the real heroes.  If you're an athlete and happen to be reading this, you have to realize that sometimes athletics do provide you with influence, but it should also provide you with the perspective that your game pales in comparison to the game of life.  Think about the positive ways that sports can change the type of person you can be and take advantage of every opportunity.  Life should always be defined by how often you can be emotionally moved by great moments.  Sports may only provide a few of those great moments throughout a career.  The Wave is one of those moments and there are many more around the country, some that gain attention and some that don't.  If you are a parent or coach molding young athletes, you should keep this perspective in mind, as well.

This is a little different than what I would normally write about, but I was moved after watching the video and I've thought about it for a while.  I'm happy that I've chosen to be a part of sports for a career and I want to keep this idea in the back of my mind the whole time.  Developing and cultivating passion in others is what I'm striving to do.  Yes, it is just a game.  But it is a game with influence.  It provides a platform for athletes to improve themselves and others.  As long as we keep that mentality, the culture of sports will turn out alright.

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