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ISSUE 116 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/14/2003

'... It'd be so empty without sports'

By Ken Foote
Sports Editor

Friday, March 14, 2003

A recent ad campaign got me thinking. What would a world without sports be like? What would we do? What would we watch? How would we live?

These thoughts were so unsettling that it took a three-hour basketball game and the nightly installment of Sports Center to assuage my fears. Even in the heart of the Dead Zone, it is clear that sports are here to stay.

However, what if this horrifyingly grave world proposed by ESPN came to fruition? Without sports, evolution would just be a theory. Evolution explains how a game can start as an ultimate frisbee style passing game, no dribbling allowed, in which competitors shot a soccer ball into an apple basket can transform into a full court display of speed, athleticism and creativity. Evolution shows change in the game while staying true to its roots. Evolution allows us to marvel at our present and appreciate our past.

Without sports, Yogi Berra wouldn’t make any sense. “The game is 80 percent mental, and the other half is physical,” the lovable, hall of fame catcher once said. If baseball didn’t exist, therefore never providing an avenue that could sufficiently translate Berra’s infinite wisdom, Yogi could never have become an inspiration to millions for his hard work and grit that allowed him to outplay more gifted competitors. He even managed to put a positive spin on being physically unattractive. “So, I’m ugly,” he told reporters. “I’ve never seen anybody hit with his face.”

Without sports, a shelf would just be a shelf. Creativity, thy name is sports. Were else can a shelf transcend beyond the realm of inanimate pack mule? A shelf can become the basis of a competitive game or a climbing wall, properly anchored of course, for youngster thus serving as a creative outlet for those who can’t draw or craft works of literary magic. Sports allow athletes to paint pictures and create masterpieces with the movement of their bodies and the ability to defy physical limitations.

Without sports, Socks couldn’t be spelled Sox. There it is, in a nutshell. Sports are so big they have changed American lexicon. Everyone knows that the word fumble implies a mistake, but not from reading a dictionary. They learn from seeing a coach, on the verge of a massive coronary, yelling at a 240-pound man for putting the ball on the turf. Dr. Seuss gave us one fish, two fish, but sports gave us one jock, two jock, Red Sox, White Sox.

Without sports, there would be nothing to write about. This slogan doesn’t appear on TV, but it rings true nonetheless. Sure, newspapers would be lighter delighting thousands of paperboys nation wide, but what would sports writers do all day, no longer able to express their own creativity?

What would life be like if we never witnessed the sheer mastery of Babe Ruth, the wizardry of Barry Sanders, or the uninhibited creativity and competitive drive of Michael Jordan? To a sports fanatic, that is the equivalent of taking away Einstein, Houdini and Da Vinci.

It is chilling to think of a world in which sports don’t exist. Thankfully, we don’t have to, and hopefully we never will.

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