Professional Sports and Their Impact on Us

A starry night at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The AAA baseball team is a feeder to the professional Tampa Bay Rays team, who compete in the MLB. (Photo courtesy of Ray Youman)

It’s the final three seconds of Game 5 in the Cavaliers vs. Pacers matchup. The game is tied 95-95. LeBron James receives the pass from the inbound, and immediately drives up to hit the game winning 3-point shot. The Cavaliers have staved off a rampage from the Pacers, and lead their first round playoff series 3 games to 2.

“I don’t want them to advance,” said Wes Zemonek after the buzzer-beater win. “Never been a Cavs fan. They just don’t deserve it this year.” Zemonek is a senior at Leesville Road High School. Along with his love for the game, he was also a varsity basketball player for the Pride this past year.

The influence of professional sports has seeped into the fabric of our daily lives for decades. We are drawn to entertainment that showcases the ability of humans to perform at their peak in competitive scenarios. Some are drawn to the strength and agility that many of these sports showcase. Others are in it for the statistics and display of intelligence found in the decision making and clutch time aspect of these sports.

“Pro sports are everything. I’m checking Bleacher Report like four hours of the day,” said Josh O’Donovan, a junior at Leesville and a varsity track and field runner. O’Donovan is currently positioned with the varsity baseball team as the team statistician, keeping track of the hits and pitches from Leesville’s ballplayers.

The five main American sports (football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and soccer) all include similar traits that make them extremely enjoyable for the masses to witness and play. Despite the vast differences in their rules, requirements, and gameplay, they all revolve around an energetic, fast paced, and suspenseful environment. From the teams that the athletes partaking in these sports are a part of, we can pick and choose our favorite players and worst rivals. We are inspired by the raw athleticism and talent amongst the rest that our idols possess.

“Jrue Holiday went off last night!” said Evan Provost, a senior at Leesville Road High School. Talking about the New Orleans Pelicans, his favorite NBA team, Provost believes the Pelicans are positioned for a deep run in the playoffs. “They swept the Trail Blazers, and this group is untested in the playoffs. It’ll be a tough team to beat, to say the least.” said Provost.

Furthermore, students our age are inspired to recreate and perfect the events that they see live or through the TV. The great majority of high schools in the US not only possess sports teams, but partake in divisions and form rivalries with nearby schools and players. The moment I first saw Ichiro slap a triple in Seattle’s Safeco Field, I knew baseball would be my new sport. And, even though I have recently fallen out of playing the sport of baseball, the admiration for the game and the players will remain with me for the rest of my life.

Student athletes take the time out of their school days to build their skills outside of the classroom. Some have the hope of making it to the big stage; to walk on that same field, court, or rink that their idol stood on. Others are in it for the pure excitement of competitiveness and greatness that can come along with self-made hard work and skill building.

People who don’t see the point of professional sports or it’s importance in our society often argue for it being trivial, a waste of time in the grand scheme of things, a waste of money and resources on players and coaches that live in their own bubble. Those are the same people that haven’t had the experience of swinging a baseball bat or making a basket. Professional athletes are a display of us at our best, an actualization of our dreams to be the most ripped guy in the gym or the fastest woman on the track. They represent those of us who can’t afford to go 100-0 in a niche, that want to see themselves be the best at a single thing, that want to realize how high they can go if they focus on their performing potential.

We idolize them because, deep down, we wish we were them.

I am not, and never will be, a professional baseball player. That ship sailed a long time ago when I adopted a million other hobbies to fill my time. But I will cheer on Ichiro until the day he finally retires.

Every hit, every catch, and every throw is a representation of what I wanted as a kid, and what I respect and admire now: to perfect a skill, become better, and inspire others to do the same.

 

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