What makes sports great?
A question I've come across many times, yet still struggle to find a satisfying answer to.
My sports journalism lecturer, San Jose Mercury News sports columnist Mark Purdy, said sports are regularly scheduled drama, which must be the main reason people are so drawn to them.
I agree with Purdy's statement, but also believe that there has to be something more to it, something deeper and more meaningful.
Sports unite people in a common belief that their team can win, however improbable or downright impossible.
Sports can act as an escape for some, bringing back nostalgic memories of simpler times, when you were a kid and all that mattered was the love of the game.
Sports can also celebrate the human spirit.
Last Monday, in a game between Western Oregon University and Central Washington University, Sara Tucholsky of Western Oregon hit the first home run of her career, a three-run shot to center field, to give Oregon an early 3-0 lead.
Yet as the senior rounded first base on her home-run trot, she missed the bag and was doubling back to tag it when her leg gave out underneath her.
Tucholsky crawled back to first base in pain.
The umpires confirmed that, according to the rule book, Tucholsky must be replaced at first base with a pinch runner, taking away the first home run of her career, and instead recording it as a two-run single.
The other option was for Tucholsky to finish running the bases herself without any assistance from her teammates, coaches or trainers—as an active base runner, if she was touched by anyone on her team, she would have been called out.
It was then that Mallory Holtman and Liz Wallace of Central Washington volunteered to carry the injured Tucholsky around the remaining bases to complete her home run.
Cradling Tucholsky between them, the two lowered her at each passing base so that she could tap her left foot on the bag.
When the three players finally reached home plate, they were greeted with a standing ovation.
"It kept everything in perspective," Western Oregon Coach Pam Knox said in an ESPN article. "It was such a lesson that we learned—that it's not all about winning. I will never, ever forget this moment."
Acts of sportsmanship like this add to the mystical aura that surround sports.
Acts like this make sports great.
This article was originally published in The Santa Clara. It is reproduced with permission from the author, Cecile Nguyen, the sports editor.