On Wednesday night, I witnessed something completely out of the ordinary.
Throughout the course of the evening, I watched as thousands of people—unaware of who each other was and where they came from—grew together and bonded. Friends, lovers, and strangers alike grew closer as the seconds turned to minutes and the minutes to hours, as they became enraptured by a common experience.
Unlike so many things in society, there was no disagreement, no argument, and no fighting. It was just people being people—together.
Maybe it was a common interest, maybe it was a shared passion, but needless to say borders were broken from the stereotypical extremes of society, and memories were made to last a lifetime.
Ok, so it wasn’t a sporting event. It was a Dave Matthews concert—probably one of the greatest experiences of my life—but, like his music, I began to think and reflect upon a thousand ideas as I looked out over the sea of people who, after waiting out a small rain shower, were now bobbing along intently with the music emanating from a man they all carried a deep respect for.
The thoughts I had were how events like these can change our lives and how the world of sport opens our lives up to thousands of new possibilities.
Think back to your most memorable sporting event. Whether it was out of pure joy or agony, or just plain passion, you saw something that transcended the borders of humanity.
The C.E.O of the local company raking in $2.4 million a year is high-fiving the 19-year-old part-time forklift driver after the game-tying basket; a man who’s been following the same team for seventy years can be seen holding his grandson—newly introduced to the sport—as the kicker prepares for the game-clinching kick; a feminist embraces her male chauvinist boss after the puck just barely squeaks across the goal line in triple overtime—that’s what sport offers you.
As we go on, music and sport become easily equitable to the most memorable moments of our lives. I can think back to when I was younger, and my favorite (and most clear) memory is driving down the road in my dad’s old pickup truck listening to Duke of Earl, as music engrains itself into my memory, offering me a lifetime of happiness.
Likewise, I can remember sitting on his lap when I was about the same age, asking all sorts of questions about baseball and hockey—perhaps not the smartest questions, but dad sat through it all and answered them, again offering me an indelible memory.
Music and sport have become so commercialized, mainstream, overdone, or whatever term you’d like to use, that we often overlook what they offer us as people. We forget the four-year-old child seeing his first live game with his father, the little girl putting on her skates for the first time, or the grandfather throwing a wiffle-ball underhanded to his grandson so they can just be together in the great outdoors.
Because of these things, sports eventually transcend what we’ve come to believe them to be—just mere games where men (and women) who play them for absurd amounts of money can bask in the glow from their adoring public—and become one man’s reason to hold on to memories from his childhood.
We’ve evolved from the era where we’d merely treat sports as activities that are just intended to fill a predetermined time period, and they’ve started to mean something to everyone.
Ask Tiger Woods what golf did for himself and for his father. Some of Tiger’s earliest memories are with a golf club, but could you imagine how different it would be if they weren’t directly connected to his father? The fact that Woods gets to play golf, whether it be professionally or if he had never made the pro ranks, I’m sure that part of him would feel at home on the course, as if his father were right there with him every single time he stepped out onto the green.
Playing sports may be limited to the best, those with the elite talent that allow them to perform at the peak of athletic performance, but taking your own meaning from sport can happen to anyone—all you have to do is approach it with an open mind and passion —whether it’s a passion for who you’re there with, the sport you’re attending, or both—because nothing great (or memorable) was ever accomplished in this world without passion.
Sports can be our earliest memories, and they can also be our last. Whether or not that basket goes in, the kick goes wide, or the puck crosses the line though, we’ll hold on to those memories because despite how silly the concept seems from afar, these are the memories that will last.
Sport may not transcend life (although with some people it does), but there’s a switch flipped somewhere in the mind of human beings at important moments that helps us hold on to the memories so we remember what happens, and more importantly, who we’re with.