It’s More Than Just A Game To Me

cubs

By Kate

Now that I’ve had a full day to ride the rollercoaster of emotions that accompanied the Cubs winning the World Series, I’m ready to write about it. I think I can finally put into words the thoughts that I couldn’t quite process in that final out of the 10th inning, as I was flooded with a potpourri of feelings. I felt relief of course, and shock. I felt joy, but also a bit of grief. I felt connected to people, past and present, near and a thousand miles away. I felt everything.

Because that’s what sports do. They bring out a depth of emotion that I otherwise don’t often experience. They fill me with excitement, chills, passion, and occasionally, a little rage (which I was reminded of somewhere in the 8th inning on Wednesday night as I mentioned that I needed a piñata, stat).

But, they do more than just that. They tell the story of my life. As I sit down to watch football on Saturdays, I feel a nostalgic comfort of childhood. I’m reminded of all the weekends that my family sat crowded around the TV screen. I think of my parents kissing after each touchdown, and I remember fighting amongst ourselves to read the sports section of the paper first.

As I toss the football around with my husband in our yard, I think of all the hours I spent playing basketball in the driveway with my dad, kicking the soccer ball with my brother and sister, and cheering for my mom in the last mile of her marathons. I quickly recall the feeling of lacing up my cleats before big games, and stepping onto the field of freshly cut grass for the opening contest each season. I’m reminded of how it felt to sit in the high school football section for the first time, and I reminisce on Friday afternoons spent giddily getting ready with my friends for those games.

I’ve hugged strangers and I’ve argued with fellow fans. I’ve lost my voice cheering and I’ve crawled into bed crying, both disappointed and happy tears. Sports have brought out the best, and from time to time, the worst in me. But beyond all else, they’ve brought out the most authentic, unfiltered, truest version of me.

Sports are my spiritual connection to this world and to what’s beyond. In watching the Cubs win their first championship since 1908, I’m not just rooting for myself and my own fandom. I’m rooting for all the fans that came and went before me. I’m cheering for those who are no longer here, on this Earth, to cheer beside me and with me.

Playing, watching, and loving sports have taught me some of the biggest lessons of my life about loyalty, persistence, commitment, and community. So, in the end, it isn’t just a number on the scoreboard, or a tally in the win-loss column. It’s more than just a game to me. And I’m grateful for that.

When I look back at the course of my life, so many of my greatest memories have come from sports and extend beyond them. As I’ve watched and played, I’ve been reminded of how it feels to come fully alive, to be all in, and to exist as part of something so much bigger than myself.

Bryant’s throw to Rizzo was more than just an out. It was a moment I will never forget.

{featured image via Chicago Tribune}

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