The Power of Sport

Jul 24, 2012 by

The Power of Sport

This is first a site about sports.  On occasion I will delve into more serious issues, but I feel like it’s important that the Sporting Spectator is a site that is consistent in providing an outlet for unique sports related discourse.   I think sports should be viewed, (especially professional sports), as an escape from reality.  There’s a sport for every season and just about every day a game is played somewhere so that fans can get their fix.  It’s a non stop theatrical machine, where adults play childhood games at the highest level possible and for unimaginable rewards.  Professional athletes are paid outlandish sums of money to perform acts like shooting a puck, kicking a ball or throwing a pass.  Its worth noting that they are the absolute best in the world at performing their specific skill set.  To add to the drama, they do so in front of a demanding high paying audience and the all-encompassing eye of sports media criticism.  We can debate whether their salaries are justifiable or not, but their incomes are largely governed by basic economic principles of supply and demand.  People are willing to pay a certain amount of money to watch and support their favourite sports teams; hence, it stands to reason that the players get their fair share.  Shea Weber, an elite defenseman in the NHL, is on the verge of signing a 14 year contract for $110 million dollars.  Does this salary sound absurd to any normal person?  Of course it does, but the world Weber and players like him inhabit is one of fantasy.  As fans and followers of sport we must treat it the same way.   The next few days we will debate by the water-cooler and call in to sports radio talk shows or contribute to blogs, debating the merits of the deal until we’re in blue in the face, that is, until the next topic emerges.  Than we do it all over again…

We can still cover sport seriously, but in my opinion its power lies in its ability to distract us from reality and at times unify us.  It’s a source of escapism, where childhood dreams unfold on our televisions nightly for the aspiring athlete, the sports fan and the athlete participating.  Just as important, it also serves as a form of unification, for friendships, communities and nations.  When Spain won the 2012 Euro a country celebrated together both locally and abroad.  For a month of tournament play Spanish people and their supporters were brought together from all over the world, much like every other nation participating, that is, until their countries were eliminated.  We joined together in our friend’s homes and local establishments and watched the beautiful game unfold.  Even when “our” country was not playing we gathered in support of our friend’s; on one day we supported Holland, the next Croatia and so on.   We do so to show support, to reinforce relationships, and to celebrate our own heritage; but also because we collectively want to be involved and feel connected in some way – and not so secretly, we all hope our team prevails.

Sport can bring out the best in people and it’s a powerful medium for bringing us together and just as importantly it’s a healthy distraction.  It brings light in when at times everything else in the world seems dark.  I’m reminded of this sentiment as I try to determine whether or not to write about the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado where 12 people were murdered and another 58 people were injured at a movie theatre while attending the premier of The Dark Night Rises on July 20th.  I have a background in criminology and have long been an advocate for harsher gun laws and this is a topic that really stirs my emotions.  I’m undecided as to whether or not I will tackle this issue in the near term, but in the future I will occasionally interrupt the “game” for something more serious.  Rest assured this site will stick to covering sports issues; that’s what you can expect to find here. It’s the type of daily theatre we all need from time to time; especially on days when we struggle to make sense of the tragedies that far too often pervade the newswire.  Sometimes something trivial such as a team’s winning streak, an unexpected trade or a jaw dropping contract to Shea Weber, can help deflect the barrage of stresses in life.  Sport doesn’t solve the challenges that we as individuals and society face, but it’s a weapon in our arsenal for combating the negativity we are constantly bombarded with.  It’s comforting to me knowing that there will always be a game tomorrow.  That my team’s fortune has a chance to change for the better, and that there will always be a contract like Weber’s to analyze and debate.

by Nick Kazos

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