Sports: A Safe Haven in the Midst of Life's Turmoil

Mary Jo BuchananSenior Writer IMarch 14, 2009

The headlines scream out the troubles and turmoil in the world today. The economic news goes from bad to worse, with the stock market on a roller coaster of ups and downs, gutting many nest eggs and retirement funds.

Worse yet, crooks of the most despicable sort have stolen money from charities and ordinary people to line their own pockets.

These fiends may be behind bars, or at least one of them is, but more seem to be cropping up each day as innocent folks are preyed upon.

Unemployment continues to climb and there are often more friends who have lost their jobs than those who are currently, and probably tenuously, employed.

There are gunman in schools and also in our churches, making us wonder if anywhere is truly safe or secure.

While the troubles of the world and the nation swirl, each one of us also experiences other trials and tribulations in our lives.  Maybe a loved one is sick or dying. 

Perhaps someone you care about is going through a terrible divorce or the pain of trying valiantly to fight an addiction to alcohol or drugs.

We all yearn for something that will take our minds off our troubles and provide a safe haven for us in the midst of the storm.  Some find this refuge in a good book, a funny television show, or even an intense and scary movie.

But for so many of us, our respite from the troubles of the world and in our lives comes from our passion for our particular sport. 

Be it basketball or hockey, football or baseball, wrestling or golf or tennis, we plan our escape through the next adventure on the field or course or nearest rink.

My personal escape just happens to be NASCAR racing.  It is the one and only sport where I can immerse myself totally and forget about the the stress at work, the concern about college tuition, and the worry about a sister-in-law's cancer.

For a few hours, each Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I find my escape from reality.  I  enter the vast world of stock car racing and am magically transported away from the "real world", with its seemingly overwhelming trials and tribulations.

I can actually lose myself and my troubles completely when I'm caught up in a race weekend.  From qualifying time trials on Friday, to practice and Happy Hour on Saturday, to race day on Sunday, I can live in this alternate world.

This is the world where I fret over where Jeff Gordon qualified and how Dale Junior's engine change will affect his starting position in the field, instead of how the bills will get paid and if my job is secure.

Losing myself completely in the world of NASCAR and escaping the "real world" is even more dramatic when I can get myself to the closest race track.  Several years ago, when we were helping a friend race in the Camping World East series, we absolutely lived for race weekend.

The quiet sounds of the waking up of the race track, the smells of the Sunoco fuel and smoking tires, and the loud roar as the engines are fired totally made me forget about whatever was troubling or ailing my soul.

It's like that for every fan or any sport, isn't it?  I know of a work colleague with a very critical job who is totally leaving it behind this weekend and jetting off to Florida for Yankees training camp.

Another work colleague has her refrigerator plastered with all of the brackets for March Madness and actually takes off work just to catch some of the games.

That's what sports means to all of us.  It is the sacrosanct place where we can all go to escape.  It is indeed a harbor in the midst of life's storms.

So today, as you listen to the troubling news or as you struggle with your own personal traumas and troubles, may you find refuge in your favorite sport. 

And may your passion, love and commitment to the sport you love transport you to another place where you feel safe from all the world's difficulties and harm.

Now more than ever, we need the safe havens our sports provide, don't we?

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