There’s just something about sports.
I’ve been following athletics closely since before I could do long division, and I still can’t quite figure it out. What is it about a bunch of people throwing around a ball in some manner that captures the hearts of millions? How can people become so invested in that ball-throwing or kicking activity through nothing more than watching it on television? Why do people quite literally dedicate their lives to these events even though so few make it?
Two conversations I’ve had stick out in my mind as the closest thing to an answer to those questions.
The first was with Brandon Beachy, former Indiana Wesleyan University baseball player and current rising star in Major League Baseball with the Atlanta Braves. Following his team’s untimely end to the 2011 season, I got a chance to talk with him on the phone. It had only been a short time since the season ended, but he told me he was already itching to get back to playing.
One thing Beachy said that surprised me was the fact that his offseason regimen started off with not even throwing a baseball for weeks, even months, on end. I caught him in the middle of this athletic abstinence. He said it was driving him crazy. I can only imagine it’s the same way for countless others with the same routine.
The second conversation was with current IWU student and former Wildcat volleyball standout Kelsey Masuda (sr). This talk happened in two parts: the first, shortly after her final season ended, and the second just weeks before she closes the book on college entirely. During both talks, one thing was evident: She still had the fire inside her to play. Whether it was four days or four months after her last dig, she still had that passion for the game.
It was easy to see in her, as well as Beachy, that athletics weren’t just something they did for fun or to pay the bills. Something deeper drives them to do what they do. Something inside them makes them want to sacrifice their bodies, time and energy for their sport. Both of them knew that they would miss their game because it was a part of them.
While I’ve never even so much as sniffed a high school junior varsity roster, I can relate to this idea in my own way.
I’ve been writing sports since I was 15 years old. As a high schooler working for my local newspaper, a staff writer for The Sojourn and now the sports editor for that same publication, it’s all I’ve known for as long as I can remember. Now that I’m moving on again, writing my last Wildcard, I’m finding that I still have that passion for sports that I did when I was 15.
Whether you’re an athlete, writer or just a die-hard fan of athletics, there will always come a time when you have to say goodbye to them in one way or another. As I’m finding out right now, typing these last few lines, it’s not always the easiest thing to do. Some people don’t get it. Heck, I’m still not sure I fully know why. But for me, it’s OK to not have all the answers. It’s OK to sit back in amazement.
Because there’s just something about sports.