It has been a long while, my friends. Chalk it up to the Pandemic or a new, full time job… or just a feeling of being lost. And yes, perhaps it is odd to start back with a non-music post, but I think this is an important one, and one that has relevance in any activity or career that involves doing something many cannot do but wish they could, and one that involves being on a massive public stage or in a huge public forum.
Take It To The Limit
What athletes put their bodies through is remarkable and often dangerous. They push themselves in order to attain greatness and achieve personal and team goals. Some do things they should not be doing in terms of enhancements and steroids in order to stay competitive, but many and most (I hope) just push themselves to the limits to truly see how much they can achieve.
We follow sports because we either played them ourselves and dreamed and aspired to be professional athletes, or use it as a way to connect to a city we grew up in or a school or college we went to. This bond cannot be dismissed. Cheering for school, city, and country is a powerful bond. It brings people together, in a shared experience. And while sports can also be divisive, and sadly used for violence and unruly and unacceptable behavior, it is more often than not about passion and dedication.One Country
I will never, ever forget the 1980 Winter Olympics and the Men’s Hockey team. Watching the USA beat the USSR in the “Miracle On Ice” was one of the more profound moments I can recall. February 22, 1980. Lake Placid, NY. Final score 4-3.
Wikipedia: “The victory became one of the most iconic moments of the Games and in U.S. sports. Equally well known was the television call of the final seconds of the game by Al Michaels for ABC, in which he declared: “Do you believe in miracles? YES!”
In 1999, Sports Illustrated named the “Miracle on Ice” the top sports moment of the 20th century. As part of its centennial celebration in 2008, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) named the “Miracle on Ice” as the best international ice hockey story of the past 100 years.”
“As his team ran all over the ice in celebration, Herb Brooks sprinted back to the locker room and cried.In the locker room afterwards, players spontaneously broke into a chorus of “God Bless America”
Many may not recall that it was actually a 4-2 win over Finland that won team USA the gold… because the previous game was just that iconic and significant. But the idea of a scrappy bunch of college kids coming together for country, and conquering a giant, made us all proud. Oh how I wish we could return to those glorious days. They seem so very far away. And while I know things were far from perfect in 1984, and perhaps it is an idyllic look back at my past, the country and the world feels very different these days… broken… divided… and so far from united. What Really Matters
In recent years I have become a huge fan of the EPL. My team is the Tottenham Hotspurs. I am passionate about this team. I feel the ups and downs along with this team. Ugh. LOL.
Now a soccer tour of England is on my travel bucket list. I dream of visiting some of the classic stadiums, starting with the new White Harte Lane! And while European soccer (futbol, football) has its dark side in racism and hooliganism, something that MUST be dealt with and removed from the sport, I love the way the fans chant and sing and bond with each other over a mutual love of team.
When it’s good, it’s good. And when it’s bad… well… we see the bad and then the good.Witness the horrific incident just yesterday, when former Tottenham player Christian Eriksen collapsed on the field while playing for Denmark, suffering cardiac arrest. I was moved to tears watching his fellow teammates crying and then seeing fans on both sides (Denmark and Finland) crying and watching in utter shock and horror at what was happening. 29 year-old athletes in peak physical condition should not require CPR or a defibrillator on the field. And yet, according to the team doctor, “he was gone.”
Watch the video here and tell me you are not moved to tears as the Finish fans shout in unison “Christian!” And the Danish fans respond with a full hearted and full-throated “Eriksen!”
Some sports are more brutal than others, like boxing and MMA… and are definitely gladiatorial. Others are a bit more genteel, but still require a huge sacrifice on the bodies of the athletes, which is why I believe that colleges and professional sports should cover the insurance and mental health services of their players for years after they are done playing… maybe even in perpetuity, especially because the playing life of an athlete is limited, yet the wear and tear they suffer lingers.
One of my favorite quotes that I came up with… yes, a bit of self-indulgence here… is something I came up with on the fly when at a baseball game. One of my friends was shouting at one of the players with a typical refrain often hurled at umpires. He shouted, “You suck!”
To which I replied, “Do you know how good you have to be to suck in the major leagues?!”
Professional athletes are amazing. I sucked at Little League. Was a terrible high school wrestler… And according to my parents, when I played soccer I spent the whole game adjusting my cup, looking up at the sky, daydreaming and not paying attention, but then going into panic mode when the ball started coming towards me.
It Can All Change In A Moment
But for me, yesterday put so much in perspective. Sports matter. Soccer is called the beautiful heartbreak. We follow our teams and celebrate their wins and personally feel their losses. This makes sense for our high school or college teams, especially. It is a way of staying connected to our youth and the times that were hopefully pure and innocent and fun… But life is fleeting, life is tenuous… and we must never take it for granted.
It can change in a moment… in a second…
So live and play with full heart, full mind, and full passion. There is a reason sports analogies have found their way into self-help and self-improvement books. There is a reason that the coaching and teaching style of John Wooden (And his Pyramid of Success) is so universally accepted in business and leadership.
Sports matter… our teams matter… coming together with fellow human beings, cheering and shouting and enjoying what is on and off the field matters. Every single second matters. Yes, sports is an escape… yes, sports is entertainment… but yes, sports matter.