For those UCI students who never read the sports section because you deemed it not worth your time, or not as important as the other sections, this column is for you.
Sports is not just about athletic prowess or directing a ball into different locations. Sports serve as a metaphor, analogy, anecdote, whatever you want to call it, for just about every important thing in life.
Every game of inches and underdog story provides inspiration for “real world” situations. Every successful athlete needs to train day in and day out, looking to gain any possible edge over their opponents. That underdog that scouts and “experts” say isn’t good enough because of their height or their speed can still overcome those “flaws” and succeed by compensating in other areas.
And thus, for every athlete that fails to be the ideal role model, one can at least look at his or her positive attributes. Dedication to the game, passion for something that they love and a resiliency to continually improve are nearly found in every professional athlete.
Looking from the impact of sports as a whole, teams, at any level, provide community and link them together. One of the problems in the inner cities is a lack of sports fields and leagues for kids to play in and occupy their time and feel like they belong somewhere. Playing together with a group of peers, no matter if it is a select team of high schoolers or an over-50 only league at the local recreation center, team sports automatically build a camaraderie and sense of brotherhood that few other things can accomplish.
From a professional standpoint, a team making a run into the playoffs can sweep up the entire city, making strangers best friends on the streets, connected by the common logo on the front of their shirts. When else does an entire city get to celebrate in the streets, with a special parade for them only?
Most of all, sports provide entertainment, a splash of excitement in the mundane and dreary existence of humankind. Tired of sitting in an office all day? Simply go outside, throw a ball around or take a jog, and feel alive once again. Sometimes the best antidote to an unfortunate development in life is going out on the ball field and taking it out on your opponent (before peacefully and amicably resolving the issue by talking it out with the person of course). Earl Warren might have put it best when he said “I always turn to the sports pages first, which records people’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man’s failures.”
Finally, sports are indubitably the best source of analogies and metaphors. Baseball in particular has an endless supply of metaphors to essentially every single incident that could use a simile. The worst one of these is the one that everyone knows, involving bases and physical activity with the opposite sex. The best ones are innovative comparisons that manage to be multi-faceted. To all you guys out there, maybe the problem is that you’re swinging for the fences. Go with the pitches, even if it means going opposite field, and pick up the singles and doubles. Soon enough your offense will be much stronger than just the occasional home run. For every other time, when you’re popping up meekly or striking out badly, nothing is getting accomplished.
To close: 1 Corinthians 9:26. “Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air.” Go forth and make every single action and moment count for something. Never go through a day wasting your time.
After a fantastic 30-week romp as your friendly neighborhood sports editor, this will be the last regularly scheduled appearance of the Payoff Pitch. It has been an absolute delight to cover all of the Anteater sports, with special thanks to the always helpful athletics department and always compliant coaching staffs.
God bless and Godspeed, UCI. Zot Zot Zot.