Nine Reasons Why Sports Matter

Michael PeriattCorrespondent IApril 15, 2009

LOS ANGELES - APRIL 15:  Actor Lou Cossett Jr., singer Chaka Khan and others pose for a photo during ceremonies honoring Jackie Robinson before the game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 15, 2008 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.   (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

It was right before Spanish class at my high school the other day.  The normal pre-class chatter was filling the room and one of my friends who also wants to be a journalist turned to me and said, “You know, Periatt, I decided I don’t want to write about sports anymore.”           

Baffled, I asked, “Why not?”           

“Because it doesn’t mean anything.  It doesn’t matter in real life.”           

Sports don’t matter?   I felt like someone ran over my foot with a lawnmower.  I must have looked like a guy who saw the doctor who botched his circumcision, because the heretic left it at that...

As class went on, I was fuming.  How could he have said such a thing? Sports matter.


Sure, it doesn’t find cures for diseases or solve world hunger.  It doesn’t argue the biggest issues of our day in D.C. and it doesn’t negotiate peace treaties.

I was thinking all of this and for a second, just one second, I thought he could have been right.

But then the insanity left me and I compiled a list of the top nine (I know, random number) reasons that sports matter


9.  Excitement/passion

Who can deny the excitement sports give the world? Thousands of fans flock to stadiums and arenas while millions join them on TV all waiting in excitement to do anything from scream their lungs out, to criticizing the players’ mom, to painting their chests in sub-zero weather. 

I don’t care what you say.  Anything with body paint is important.


8.  Participation

We all know about the pros, but millions of people play sports all over the world.  Whether it’s a CYO basketball league, or playing soccer in Africa, it provides morale and an escape form the day-to-day drudgery. 

I still say to this day that the most intense basketball game I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a lot), was a 30-and-over pickup game at the local YMCA. 

Bones were cracking, fat was bouncing, and balls were clanking off the rim, but those guys were having a blast just participating in some good, hard-nosed basketball.


7. Opportunity

This one doesn’t apply to everyone, but a stud athlete is more coveted than that blanket with sleeves (snuggie I think). 

We all know that school districts in impoverished areas leave little hope to break the cycle of poverty and escape the crime ridden streets. Sometimes the only hope of getting out is that elusive athletic scholarship and getting a higher education.


6. Unifying Force

This is a bold statement, but I’m going to say it anyway.  Sports are the most powerful unifying force in the world. 

Towns, cities, and even entire nations can put aside their differences for a little bit and unite for a few hours to cheer on their favorite team. That’s power.


5. Tradition

Part of what makes sports great is the tradition.  There’s nothing better than hearing that fight song, or doing that special cheer that makes your team unique.

There’s also something to be said about the family tradition of sports.  Generations cheer for the same team and it brings them closer together.  That’s important.


4.  Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition

Yes I said it, but you like it, too.  Who doesn’t wait to read all those seductive and luscious articles in the best issue of the year? 


3. Charities

How many athletes have charities these days?  It’s almost a requirement that any athlete who has moderate success starts his or her own foundation or charity and if not supports another existing charity.  

Yeah, their contracts are more lucrative than Kevin Federline’s child support, but at least a portion of their fortune goes to make the world a better place.  And that matters.


2. The Moment

Everyone has one. Buzzer beaters.  Last second TD’s. Walk-offs. That special sports memory that will stick with you the rest of your life.  It could be personal or something you watched, but every avid sports fan knows what I’m talking about.

No matter what mood you are in, if that clip graces the screen, it brings you back to that moment of elation.  If sports can help cheer you up or give you something good to look back on just for a second, I think that’s important.


1. Civil Rights

Jackie Robinson…Billie Jean King…Arthur Ashe…Texas Western…and the list goes on and on.  Sports have helped open people’s eyes to the abilities of all types of people.

Without sports, civil rights would not be as far along as it is, and if anyone ever says sports doesn’t matter, tell them this and there’s no comeback.