The Reality of Sport

In a time like this it's hard to figure out a good place to start. Words don't seem capable of expressing thoughts and feelings under these difficult circumstances.

Six years ago I left my previous profession in the computer industry to chase a lifelong dream of working in sports media. As a sports writer and radio talk show host I have enjoyed my ascension in the business and usually put 90-110 hours a week into my work..Sometimes I find myself complaining about a lack of free time, pay, and all the travel. It can be draining

I treat my jobs with extreme importance and view some of my efforts as significant conquests, and yet in light of what happened to our nation on September 11, I have realized I can't do it all. I can't write the perfect piece with every effort. I can't have the best radio show every night. I can't always get the latest scoop, and I won't always predict the right scores. I am just one of many in this field with a single opinion.

I love sports, I love my job, and now that I am fully entrenched in this profession, I can't think of anything else I'd rather do – or could do better.

But after the tragedies that struck our great nation I find myself feeling as insignificant as ever.

I realize I am not irrelevant, but in the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter what is in my "Good & Bad" after each North Carolina Tar Heels football and basketball game. There is also little importance as to what my Hi and Low fives are every Monday on my radio show. In some regard it does matter and there is a place for what I do. Although such a realization is obvious, sports coverage pales in comparison to what really makes a difference in life, as the week's events have unquestionably brought to light.

Sports are an integral part of who we are. It is a form of entertainment with a twist of reality that provides us a needed outlet and is actually more—it represents who we are as a people in so many ways. But at the professional level, where one must analyze what has transpired and contemplate what might happen—be it in print or by voice—it doesn't even register on the radar screen when terrorism has reared it sickening head, especially on American soil.

We have learned that baseball wasn't essential in 1994 when the World Series was canceled, and that was without a national tragedy to tear us away from what usually tickles our Autumn fancy. It was due to the greed that has stricken this nation, often blinding us from reality.

We have learned following other stoppages in play that survival without painting our faces team colors, getting together with friends eating and drinking to our palate's delight, or sitting alone – so as not to be bothered – rooting on our teams with white knuckles and hurricane-like butterflies, is possible.

While there is nothing wrong with experiencing these emotions—it can be a healthy diversion—we must remember to keep sports and our fanaticism in its proper place.

Hating an athlete because he attends a rival school is an indictment on the hater. Despising a team because they always win or play in a certain conference or league makes literally no sense and is a waste of emotion. Rooting for a player to get hurt to better your team's chances at victory is a pathetic act of self-exposition.

The sports world was correct in postponing—and in some cases canceling—nearly all of the scheduled events from Tuesday through the weekend. Not just because fears of flying or the safety of the masses attending these events, but out of respect for those who perished and the families of those who perished or were injured. It was out of respect to the brave souls in both New York and Arlington, Va., working rescue and recovery missions. It was for those who had volunteered their time to serve in any capacity needed. It was because we, as a people, needed to respect ourselves, our nation, and trivial pleasures just didn't seem proper.

The sports world will regain its steam and charge ahead as it should. Fans will attend games decorated as they ought to. We will cheer victory and feel sorrow with defeat, as we should. And we, as a people, will view sport in a different perspective, no less important, but perhaps lower on our list of priorities.

Maybe we will respect something greater and more meaningful. Maybe, as we continue to love our teams, we will remember and appreciate what we have in our amazing society of self-indulgence, toys, games and constant delight. Maybe we will learn from this horrid tragedy and find new meaning in what really matters. Keep loving your teams but don't ever, ever forget that when it is all said and done, it is just a game.

Andrew Jones is in his sixth year covering football and basketball for Inside Carolina. He also in his fourth year as a copy editor and staff writer for the Wilmington Star-News and hosts a nightly radio show on WAAV-AM980 in Wilmington. He has also written for ACCNews and once published The College Game and the former Total Sports. He can be reached via e-mail at:

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