Death Reminds Us What Is Important, Sports Is a Part of That

Scott CollierContributor IMay 15, 2009

1 Nov 1996:  Center Shaquille O''Neal of the Los Angeles Lakers (left) and center Wayman Tisdale of the Phoenix Suns embrace during a game at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California.  The Lakers won the game, 96-82.    Mandatory Credit: Jed Jacobs

Have you ever told someone how "your" team won the game today, or said how could "we" lose that game?

Unless you are among other passionate fans, these type of statements are usually followed with a roll of the eyes or a resounding "Why are you saying your team? You never played for them."

If so, I'm sure you could consider yourself annoyed. 

I'm 28 years old, I did get a tryout to play college baseball but never made the team, I never played college football or basketball either, I was a heck of an intramural and YMCA athlete, but that's about as far as my accolades go with college athletics.

I did graduate from the University of Oklahoma and I have a deep amount of pride in my alma mater, but I don't really think that should be a prerequisite either.

Everyone has a passion, one of mine is OU athletics, namely football.  I have followed the OU football team from Seattle to Los Angeles to Eugene. I've also been to Glendale and New Orleans. 

Does this make me a better fan than anyone else? No, of course not. It does display a portion of the pride and closeness I feel to "my team," but there are a hundred different ways to show your pride in "your" team. 

Everyone needs a reason or an explanation these days, but honestly, I don't know why I live and breathe OU athletics—I just do! I grew up watching them, I decided to go to school there, and I follow them around the countryside as if they were my first son playing on his first baseball team.

People often wonder why I care so much about beating Texas or why it brought tears to my eyes to see "us" lose another bowl game, another championship game, to Florida this year.  Honestly, it's about pride, pride in my school, pride in my team, pride in the athletes that invest a lot more than myself into the program, and I invest quite a bit.

Being a fan can't be measured, but you definitely know what it feels like.

So today when I heard the news that OU legend Wayman Tisdale had passed away after a long battle with cancer, it felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. That might not be something that can't be easily understood by those who aren't passionate about sports. Hell, I was barely even old enough to watch him play for OU or understand how great he was without doing some research, but he is still a part of my family. He is still a Sooner.

So the next time someone tells you to stop acting like you are a part of the team, ask them if they've ever been passionate about something, if they've ever invested themselves in something that is bigger than themselves. Because to me, OU is and will always be bigger than myself just like my family and my faith. 

And the next time someone tells you to quit acting like sports is life and death, tell them that they are right, sports isn't life and death.

But also tell them about the day one of the legends, one of your idols, one of your family passed away, and then tell them about the little piece of you that died along with them.

Death brings perspective, it makes you realize how small sports are in the realm of life, but it also reminds you how much you really care.

If those skeptics can't understand that, then I feel sorry for them.

God Bless Wayman, Boomer Sooner!