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The Meaning of Sport

Published: Tuesday, Aug 15th 2017, 2:08pm

By Greg McCulloch (@GregOnSports)

I can’t tell you how often I have heard or read something like “It’s grown men playing a stupid kids game” or “Who cares what they think, I just don’t want them to be a distraction to the team.” Whether it is Colin Kaepernick, Marshawn Lynch, or even the CFL, there is a good portion of the fan base that just want their sports nothing else.

To a certain degree I can agree with them, sports is the ultimate escapism. It is grown men and women playing games that we played as kids ourselves. These people want to go to the local stadium, or sit on the couch at home, crack a beer, and for 3 or 4 hours not think of bills, work, or world issues.

And I’m right there with them, because that’s what I do too… Plus I get the dessert nachos and a pulled pork mac and cheese. (Side note: The Grey Cup Fit Challenge can’t come soon enough)

Sports has been, and most likely always will be, my escape from the everyday. Whether it was lacing up my skates, strapping on my cleats, sitting on my couch, or even at this keyboard right now writing for this site.  Sports has probably saved me a ton on therapy bills.

Sport can speak to people even if you don’t speak the same language. It tugs on your heart strings and plays on your emotion.

Tonight, as I write this Colorado Rockies pitcher Chad Bettis threw 7 shut out innings in his first start after a 9-week chemotherapy treatment for testicular cancer.  That has the making of a Disney movie, it gives me goosebumps.

Or take the end of the 2009 Grey Cup so much joy then so much pain. Even if you weren’t a Rider fan, watching those grown men weep openly draws you in.

Hell, I am certain there are Rider fans right now, almost 8 year later, that are having flashbacks and feel a dull ache just thinking about the finish of that game.

Sport brings people together. It inspires at a primal and tribal level. You wear your team colours with pride. You hate your rivals. You believe that your faith in the team will help the team win. Then to top it all off there are thousands of people that think and dress just like you.

Unless you dress up like a Jedi at a football game, then most people don’t dress up exactly like you.

So, when players like Kaepernick take a stand, or more literally knee, for what they believe in, it is them using the platform they have to try to raise awareness. He started the conversation with a simple action.

If he was Colin from the McDonalds around the corner putting together Big Macs and took a knee at sporting events during the anthem there would be no conversation. No one would care.

On the plus side, him being blackballed by the NFL has only added fuel to the to conversation much to the chagrin of the league.

Fortunately, not all leagues are tone deaf. With the tragedy and events of Charlottesville this past weekend, the CFL flipped the switch early on a promotion planned for later in the year and unveiled their “Diversity is Strength” t-shirts. This was the moment for that message, planned roll out be damned. Kudos to the entire CFL team for reacting so quickly, when it could have just as easily said it cold wait till next week.

Since I will never be as good as orator as Nelson Mandela I am going to finish with one of my favourite quotes of all time.

“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.” – Nelson Mandela

Hope is a great thing to have.

 

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