Since September 11th when I read James Duthie’s article, and wrote my short 10 Years piece, I can’t get one of Duthie’s questions out of my head. The question was whether sports really mattered in all this madness. With the anniversary of September 11th, the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl tragedy, and the multiple suicides this year, it was a question that I couldn’t stop thinking about. Well I have decided that my answer to whether it all matters is…
Now before you get too upset, I’m not saying that sports are more important than the lives lost, or the family left behind, or similar. Relative to life, family, and friends, sports don’t matter much, but that doesn’t mean they don’t matter, and matter a lot.
One of the reasons I believe sports matters doesn’t relate directly to sports, but may be the most important reason. The main reason I believe sports matter is that they are an evidence of freedom. We are free to cheer for who we want, whether it be the home team, the ‘best team’ (that’s more for the fake fans), our favourite players, the team we grew up cheering for, or any team we want. We are free to go to games, to watch games on TV, listen to them on the radio, and so on. While there are many things that evidence our freedom, sports is one of them, and to sports lovers like us, it is an important one.
Another reason that I believe that sports do matter is that I believe that entertainment is important to mental health. Of course there are many other forms of entertainment, but sport is (in my ever humble opinion) the best one. So why is entertainment so important? Without something to take your mind off the stresses of day to day life those stresses can become overwhelming. Following sports closely can add stress (especially during playoff time), but the stress is different. It tends to disappear quickly once the game (or series) is over, even if the outcome wasn’t the best. I know I’ve gone to bed upset about a call made during a game or a dirty hit or such, but I’ve never woken up still upset about that. On the other hand I have woken up still stressing about the ‘real-life’ thing I was stressing over the night before. If the outcome of the game/series was good than your body is flooded with those good-feeling endorphins which further help alleviate the stress. You can also take your anger and frustrations out by yelling at the refs/coaches/players/commentators on the TV screen (I know we all do it) rather than directing that frustration towards our spouse/children/friends/coworkers/etc.
My final reason is that sports help fight laziness. In a world/culture where obesity (of the non-medical variety) is growing (pun intended) and becoming more of a concern, anything to promote an active lifestyle is good, and what could be better than sports. I remember pretending to be Messier, or Neeley, or Robitaille, or whoever while playing street hockey as a kid. Those games would have been less exciting, and they would have happened much less often without our hockey idols to emulate. Now video games may be replacing those street hockey matches to some extent, but very few people would pay the huge fees to play minor hockey if we didn’t have professional hockey to dream about playing.
So yes I believe that sports do matter. I believe they are an important and necessary part of society, and that we would be worse off without them. Whether you agree with me or not I would love to hear your opinions on if and how sports matter in this world of chaos.