Sports are a business. They are entertainment. They are a competition, but it is just a game. We don’t try to attach a deeper meaning to sports because we either think there isn’t one or we can’t find the words to describe one.
Well, I’ve always been of the opinion that actions speak louder than words anyway.
If you’re not familiar with the Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette, her recent tragedy-to-triumph story has captured the hearts of individuals across the globe, avid sports fans and average Joes alike.
Rochette’s mother died suddenly two days before she was scheduled to represent the host country Canada in the recent Winter Olympic Games. I can’t imagine a person who would’ve faulted Rochette had she opted not to skate over grief of her loss.
Not only did Rochette continue in the Winter Olympics, but she skated her best performance, capturing the bronze medal.
My most memorable moment in the 2010 Olympics was not the USA-Canada hockey game or Shaun White’s 1260 McTwist, but it was watching Rochette deliver a breath-taking short program, and more notably, how overcome with emotion she was after the performance.
It was always a dream of Rochette and her mother for Rochette to win an Olympic medal. Despite being shocked and overcome with anguish, Rochette found the courage to persist and skate not only for herself and for her mother, but for all of Canada.
Was it that same courage that compelled speed skater Dan Jansen to skate in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary the day his sister, Jane, died from leukemia?
Or is it Jansen’s persistence that is even more memorable? Jansen was determined to capture Olympic gold in honor of his sister, even if it took him six years, when he finally set a world record in the 1000 meter race.
Sometimes sports are an avenue to salvation. For Canadian Chris Del Bosco, ski cross was an excuse to get sober and stay clean. After Del Bosco was kicked out the 1998 US nationals, and subsequently the US alpine skiing team, for drug use, it was the first of many lows for him.
Del Bosco had several run-ins with the law and a near-death experience in which he was found in a freezing creek with a broken neck, but despite all of this, he continued to drink.
Finally, through the support of his family, Del Bosco checked himself into a rehab program in which he succeeded.
When the rehab was over, he asked his sister, “Can I go home and ski?”
Del Bosco earned a spot on the Canadian ski cross team since his father was a Canadian citizen. While he fell just short of a medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics, Del Bosco has been sober for more than three years.
It’s hard to argue that the will to ski again didn’t help Del Bosco battle his addiction. Skiing gave Del Bosco hope of a new beginning and that was enough to pull him out of the lowest point in his life.
Moreover, Del Bosco had the courage to share his journey with the world at the Olympics, serving as a shining example to overcoming an addiction and starting over.
Sports are a business. They are entertainment. They are a competition. They are a game. But sports inspire courage in those who play them and those who just watch every day.
They give us hope for the improbable. The 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics still force us to believe in miracles after USA’s unbelievable upset of Russia in hockey.
And sports doesn’t just stun on the big stage. Every day, high school athletes find the courage to take the shot with the game on the line or encourage their teammates, even if it’s from the sideline. Aren’t these the very values that we look to instill in one another?
So the next time someone argues that sports doesn’t really matter in the greater scope of the world, just remember the actions of those who have clearly proven that theory otherwise.