I was a decent player in high school. Could have played some small college ball if I'd chosen to do so, but I chose to attend the University of Nebraska, where I would not have measured up. But I've always loved sports of all shapes and sizes. Yes, we overemphasize sports in this country. Yes, parents are far too willing to spend far too much and sacrifice far too many things for the sake of their kids' sports dreams. Yes, I agree that we're obsessed with them to an unhealthy degree. But for all that, there's a core that remains good.
What's good? When moments like this happen:
I never had a Hail Mary moment work out for me as a player, but I remember good things about sports all the same. Working together to achieve a common goal. Pain. Sweat. Sacrifice. Unity. Adversity shared. Losses acknowledged. Victories cherished. When we do sports right, it helps us grow as people. Those boys in scarlet today will remember the time they bonded together, refused to quit fighting and accomplished the near-impossible. Those boys in purple today will remember the time they worked together, gave everything they had, and lost it in a heartbeat. BOTH experiences teach us life lessons.
There's an inscription on Memorial Stadium in Lincoln that Husker fans have cherished for years:
Not the victory but the action:
Not the goal but the game:
In the deed the glory.
Today I'm thankful for sports. Whether it's the kind I play now, where I'm mainly measuring myself against my own goals and efforts, or the kind where someone keeps score, when we do it right sport is magnificent and wonderful and heartbreaking and terrible all at once, just like we are.