I remember an instance when I was sitting in the stands during one of the many EMU football games I’ve attended over my four years. Late in the fourth quarter, an inevitable loss was in the horizon among a string of disappointing losses all season. I was a sophomore and witnessing my team post a winless season after a bleak three-win season the year before.
Yet, as expected as the loss should have been, I was devastated. It seemed like my heart was literally aching and I couldn’t shake the sad, hopeless feeling in the pit of my stomach. I vividly remember looking up to a grey, overcast sky and thinking out loud, “Why do I care?”
“Why does a football team have so much stake in my well-being?”
“It’s a game for God’s sake.”
“It means nothing.”
But that’s just it—it meant everything. It wasn’t just a game or just a football team, it was my school, my community, my family. I was watching my family fail again and again and it seemed that no amount of hard work or perseverance could lift them to success.
That anecdote leads me to my ultimate point. No matter how much you love sports or hate sports and what they stand for, there is no arguing that they’re more than just games played on a field or a court, more than just a final box score, more than throwing a ball or shooting a puck.
Sports represent so much of what we hold sacred in our society—family, commitment, hard work leading to success. It’s all so relevant.
I can’t watch a Steelers game on Sunday without feeling nostalgic. I’m not reminiscing about exciting games from the past, but thinking about all the Sundays I spent watching football with my dad.
Maybe getting a pit in my stomach over a loss is a bit extreme.
But, is it really?
Sure, the Pittsburgh Steelers are not truly my family (in the most technical sense of the word), but, like a family, when they suffer, I suffer. When they lose, I lose, and when they win, I win.