For most of us, the first real love of our life wasn't some pretty eyed young lady or some shy cute little boy. It was sports. It was the love of the action, the thrill of victory and the sense of belonging.
Sports is the one thing that galvanized communities and helped bridge cultural gaps. Sports is the centerpiece of barbershop conversations, the focus of water cooler talks in the office and the uproar that sends social media into a frenzy. It is the ultimate partnership, one individual leaning on another to accomplish the task at hand. Whether your first love was basketball, football, baseball, soccer etc., I’m sure one of these introduced you to your first best friend.
Coaches become life long mentors to some because of the relationships they built with a 10 year old kid. Sports helped build leaders like John F. Kennedy, a lover of sports, who would later become the 35th president and a huge ally for the civil rights movement. How about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who played sports with his siblings as a child? He would later become one of the loudest voices in the fight for equality, while winning a Nobel Peace Prize along the way.
Barack Obama, an avid lover of basketball, became the 44th president. He helped lead the country out of a deep recession. Then, there's Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Colin Kaepernick, Lebron James, Jake Long and countless others. Two of these men put their lives on the line while others risked or potentially risked their careers. But see, that’s the beauty of sports, it allows you to show the world what you truly believe in. They give you power, courage and a voice to be your best version of superman - not only in your profession but also in your community.
See, sports is more than shooting a basketball, throwing a football or hitting a homerun. Sports helps you display an array of talents. It allows you to show your true greatness. For a three to four hour window, sports creates a realm where color doesn't matter and your social class isn't thought about. Because all of that gets lost in an array of cheers, the slapping of high five and the chants of defense. Sports is more than some game that we play as children or enjoy as adults. No. For many people, sports is their first love.
It is the very thing that helps us see people as people. So maybe, just maybe, we can learn to use the power of sports to make our country and our world do the same.