Far too often, we restrict athletic competition to the realm of organized “school” sports. The Lady Crusaders and their male counterparts seem to thoroughly occupy the position of athletics in our subconscious when, in reality, much more comprises a typical game.
What’s a sports game really about and what form does it take?
Think back to the times you have participated in sports. Likely, the first examples that come to mind are those of high school or college-sponsored teams where you represented your alma mater or the University of Dallas on the court, pitch or track.
But what about those moments where sports are spontaneous and barely organized, where you and an odd number of buddies chuck around a football on the mall or find yourselves in the unexpected possession of a rogue soccer ball?
What about those semesters where you cobble together a conglomerate of your closest friends (and maybe some strangers) and field an intramural softball team? What are these instances?
Surely, they are proper sports, although they may lack official sponsorship or even referees. So what about them makes them sports?
The presence of competition? Physical activity? A ball being in play?
All of these things are true, but there is more to it. I think what fundamentally makes a sport a sport is the presence of community.
Whether you be a collegiate athlete, a recreational athlete or just some guy with a basketball, sports bring about community in a unique and inimitable way.
The comradery, the competition, the laughs, the high fives, the sportsmanship, the failures, the victories, the bonds that are forged, the togetherness that is exemplified – there are very few places where you can find those same elements all in one place.
Sports bring together and unify people that may not have met each other otherwise. A shared love for a particular sport makes us come together with people of all ages, backgrounds and values, allowing us an opportunity to work towards a common goal despite our differences. In fact, I would argue that sports are one of the best mediums for overcoming differences.
I do not mean to diminish organized school sports in any way. In fact, as the sports editor of the newspaper, I am quite tuned in to the discipline, valor and passion our UD student-athletes demonstrate. They are a force to be reckoned with and are admirable additions to our community.
However, I do think that the term “sports” encompasses more than just being a collegiate athlete. You don’t have to play on an official team to reap the benefits of sports.
Informal, impromptu athletics comprise some of my favorite memories. I look back fondly on playing frisbee poorly on the mall, intense battles of soccer on various soccer pitches and hacky-sacking in an empty car of our stalled train on the way back from Cinque Terre. I met one of my best friends playing corn-hole on the mall – although the jury is out on whether that counts as a sport.
My point is that community is a fundamental aspect of sports, and it is present in all forms of sports, regardless of how official or unofficial they are. So get yourself a soccer ball, a pair of running shoes or some baseball gloves and get out there and meet some people. You won’t regret it.