Why Sports Matter Now More Than Ever


Last week I spent what felt like a year at the Iowa boys basketball state tournament. I was on-hand to do color commentary for a local radio station as the sports world turned upside down. We were on the air Wednesday night when Tom Hanks was confirmed to have CV-19, the NBA season was cancelled, and less than 48 hours later the boys state championship games were conducted in front of a few dozen fans and parents.

In the last three days, we have struggled to adjust to this new world as we have learned the importance of "flattening the curve" and how to practice "social distancing". We have watched as nightmare scenarios have unfolded abroad, and been challenged to embrace a new way of life to avoid facing the same fate at home.

In many places, schools have closed and local governments are discouraging public gatherings, yet for many of us, we are experiencing a world without sports for the first time and wondering exactly what we should be doing with our time and attention.

As this mandated sports cleanse continues, I find myself wrestling with an existential question, one that would have been unthinkable just a few days ago...

Do sports really matter?

Without question, athletes and fans around the world are adjusting to the cessation of sports as we know it. Postseason tournaments were cancelled abruptly, robbing many athletes of a proper conclusion to their season. In many places, spring sports may not happen at all. Jim Nantz will have to call The Masters long after the azaleas have bloomed. And perhaps most maddening of all, March will be devoid of madness this year.

As the sports industry grinds to a halt, and more dramatic disruptions to daily life continue to intensify, it is clear that there is more to life than basketball. Some might even argue that as our priorities shift in the weeks and months ahead, we will come to a realization that sports never really mattered that much in the first place.

Afterall, life away from the game is a small price to pay to combat the most significant global health crisis of our time.

However, as gyms have been shuttered across the country, I have noticed something else... Everything we need to meet the demands of this new world we learned in sports.

Consider, to combat the deadly coronavirus we must be willing to sacrifice for the greater good. We must choose to share when we are tempted to hoard. We must choose to isolate when we prefer to gather. Our overall success will be determined by our attention to the fundamentals like washing our hands or coughing into our sleeves.

The very lives of our friends and neighbors may depend upon our ability to unify our efforts toward a common goal that is greater than ourselves. It will require us to serve others when it is not convenient to do so.

The challenges we face will only be overcome by hard work, dedication, perseverance, and a commitment to one another.

Sound familiar?

We are all on the same team now, and we are all battling against the same opponent.

May this experience remind us of what is most important when the ball starts bouncing again - that we are preparing young people to make a positive difference in this world, and that matters now more than ever.

"Not only is there more to life than basketball, there's more to basketball than basketball." - Phil Jackson



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