Do sports really matter? Why yes, they do

Ariy-El Boynton

Ariy-El Boynton

Recently I overheard someone say that, Sports is boring and that all that happens is one team wins and the other loses and blah, blah, blah.

This comment upset me, and I took it personally, because not only is one of my biggest hobbies athletics, but my job, which I constantly think and worry about, was attacked by a statement that I felt was made in ignorance. Instead of yelling or disputing this claim, I decided to go the passive-aggressive route and write a column about said comment. I will try to do my best to explain how sports are not only meaningful but deal with much more than winners and losers.

The IUPUI Men’s Basketball Coach Ron Hunter sacrificed something during his Summit League game against Oakland (Mich.) on Jan. 24. Hunter decided to coach the basketball game shoeless for Samaritan’s Feet, a nonprofit, Christian-based charity that seeks to put shoes on 10 million people throughout the world over a 10-year span. Through Hunter’s efforts, more than 110,000 pairs of shoes were donated to Samaritan’s Feet. Hunter was so emotionally affected that he broke down and cried. He was touched that people from all over the Indianapolis community and country had responded to his efforts.

Sports have given young girls role models to look up to- such as players in the Women’s National Basketball Association, which was created by the NBA as a way to enrich women’s opportunities through the art of athletics. Now young girls do not need to pretend that they are Jordan, Bird, Dr. J or any other male. Young women can dream on their elementary blacktops that they are Sue Bird, Lisa Leslie, Lauren Jackson, Diana Taurasi or their favorite WNBA player.

Sports have also given women leadership roles. Jeanie Buss has had a hand in management of the Los Angeles Lakers since she was 19, and businesswoman Sheila Johnson is the majority owner of the Washington Mystics.

Through the works of Buss, Johnson, Leslie and Bird, women have started to become major players in sport’s ownership. Seattle businesswomen and civic leaders recently bought out the Seattle Storm, a WNBA team since 2000, earlier this month. The umbrella group which purchased the Storm is called Force 10 Hoops, and the four women-Dawn Trudeau, Anne Levinson, Lisa Brummel and Ginny Gilder-will hopefully prove that women in ownership of sports teams just makes sense.

Try telling millions of fans rooting for national pride and unity in the World Cup every four years that sports are boring; I am not sure that they would listen to your claim.

I think of many inner city children who have found an escape on Friday and Saturday nights with sports that help them stay out of trouble. Despite their problems with life, they always have a ball and buddies to play with, and they can dream of greater things.

What about Isiah Thomas, the “little guy” from Chicago who escaped poverty with hard work and determination? His neighborhood was so bad that thugs went to Ms. Thomas’s house and said, “We want your boys. They can’t walk around here and not be in any gang.” The sometimes starving and youngest of nine brothers did not let the streets get the best of him, unlike his other brothers, and he used basketball as a vehicle out of Chicago. He went on to be named on to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.

I think of my coaches through out my childhood, adolescence and pre-adulthood and how they served as father figures to me. They praised me when I learned how to do something right, they yelled at me when I messed up and smiled at me when I surprised them. I also have gained some of my better friends through athletics, developing bonds that I will always cherish. I would be eager to return that favor to today’s youth.

Try telling the Washington Redskins who dedicated their 2007 season to their fallen teammate, Sean Taylor (1983-2007), that sports are boring. After attending Taylor’s funeral, the Redskins went on to win their final four games and gave their safety a berth in the playoffs.

The growth of sports in the country has grown dramatically over the years. Take NASCAR, for example. According to website, the top NASCAR earner in 1972 was Bobby Allison with $348,939, compared to $7,764,405 made by Jimmie Johnson’s team in 2006.

The truth of the matter is that Americans love to be entertained and nothing is more exciting to Americans than competition. Take the X games, for example. Who would have thought that such a novelty event, which first began over 17 years ago, would become so popular and take over ESPN programming for more than a week? These athletes are now household names.

I will go as far as to point to the success of rock, paper, scissors competition. Whoever wins the USA Rock Paper Scissors League championship gets $50,000. The timeless, three option sport has even made an impact in the courtroom. In 2006, Federal Judge Gregory Presnell from Florida ordered opposing sides in a lengthy court case to settle a trivial, but lengthily debated, point over the appropriate place for a deposition using the game of rock, paper, scissors.

Sports is one of the most important social rituals that people of this country love to do, watch and to talk about. From putting women in power, to creating opportunities for poverty stricken kids, to deciding court cases, the cultural phenomenon that is professional athletics touches the heart of this great nation from coast to coast.