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The Perennial

The Perennial

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The Hidden Beauty of Sports

Sam Jezak

In the interest of being as forthcoming as possible, I’ll start with this: I’ve never understood the appeal of sports. I have baked my apathy toward sports into the very core of my personality, a move which I have now come to regret. The tolerator of my company may wonder what kind of catastrophe has triggered my sudden appreciation for sports: the answer is that I recently attended a Pinewood girls basketball game. That game, and the determination and grit on display that night, changed the way I saw basketball and the concept of sports as a whole. 

I hope the team will forgive me for saying that watching their beatdown against Priory felt quite brutal, although I imagine that participating in it must have felt even more so. However, that night, I also watched the Pinewood girls exhibit something far more noteworthy and, as a result, came to appreciate the true appeal of sports. 

I truly believe that the girls who defended their home court that day were not the same as the ones I see every day in class. Katherine and I exchange smiles every day in pre-calc, and I see Jolyn giggle with her friends every day at lunch. Yet as they stepped onto the court, I no longer saw the easy-going girls with whom I was familiar. Suddenly, their faces were locked into a focused, determined position, constantly calculating how to score the next point or defend their hoop. The team worked brilliantly as a collective, executing plays with precision and elegance. I would attribute their seemingly telepathic communication to the hours of practice and games that molded those individuals into a functioning, successful team. In that, I imagine, is the true appeal of sports for the athletes — the opportunity to work with your friends and teammates for the betterment of oneself. 

I should reaffirm that I can only discuss the appeal of sports to athletes as a speculative observer; however, I can offer more personal insight into the appeal of sports to the viewer. As I watched the girls team take every blow from the Priory, I felt so deeply inspired by the way that they never wavered from their mission. After each point, whether it favored the Pinewood team or not, they would fist bump or high five each other and resolve to try even harder for the next point. For the average viewer of any sports game, these resilient behaviors serve as great models for everyone, even if they never find themselves on the court in their lifetimes. 

In many ways, athletes exemplify the very best of humanity. The way that the teams work so perfectly together. The way that each athlete bounces back in their own way and can make the sweetest lemonade out of the sourest lemons. When I looked out onto that court, I saw a group of heroes who, in the face of overwhelming pressure and adversity, remained determined to work together, bounce back, and earn every point they could. When I left, I felt inspired to adopt that fighting spirit in my own life. That, in essence, is the real purpose of sports: to help us find, in many ways, a better version of ourselves.

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