Meh, I say, meeeeh, with the utmost disrespect to the sport that is their passion.
My friends keep asking me to join them in their passion and play tennis, but because I am me and can't just leave things as a simple “no,” I feel the need to elaborate. I hem and haw and “meh” like I am Larry David, digging myself into a deeper hole.
"Eh, I don't really play tennis..."
"Nah, I'm not really into sports..."
"Trying to hit a ball over a net? Meh, I...I just don't see the point."
With these probable insults, I should be wondering why I have any friends.
And yet, with the upcoming start of the 2016 Olympic Games, I find myself wondering about sports.
For couldn’t we question this about all sports? You win, you lose, eh. Couldn’t we shrug and say, what is the point?
What drives these athletes to strive for these above-human feats?
What makes them go?
My father runs 20 miles a day, my god, for what reason?? (Says the girl confident she will never run again unless she is being chased.)
Through him I once had the pleasure of meeting the world’s fastest speed walker. The whole time while chatting I thought, while you are awesome, if you’re the fastest walker in the world, why not just run? What keeps people dedicated to their passions?
I have a secret:
Sometimes, late at night, I watch a Youtube video of Kerri Strug at the 1996 Olympics.
I was 17 at the time and big into my dance team. Winning the Long Island Championship. Winning the Nationals. Winning. Winning.
(Am I an athlete? Questionable. A competitor? Hells to the yes.)
To refresh your memory Kerri was a member of the “Magnificent Seven” women’s gymnastics team and was competing against the Russians for the Gold.
(Thanks to the hockey and ice skating movies of my formative years, the 80’s, early 90’s, I will forever be battling the Russians.)
With one rotation left, she badly hurt her ankle. But the USA needed her performance to have any chance at the gold.
“Do we need this?” she asked her coach, because I was there intensely battle the Russians. (Ok fine, it says so on Wikipedia.) And the coach said yes, “you can do it. You better do it.”
Kerri does the vault with her broken foot and sticks the landing before collapsing to the floor. And oh, what pain she was visibly in! And the coach comes and scoops her up and carries her off the mat, and she wins the gold! She won the gold for American with her broken foot!
(Oh, the tears, give me a minute, I’ll just, yup, hold on…)
I don’t know what the point of sports is, anymore or less than I know what is the point of anything.
I do know that watching a performance of a girl persevere through a broken ankle is something we can all, believe it or not, relate to. We’ve all felt at times that we can’t get up, we can't go on, and then we watch and see, we SEE, that we can.
We can get up and try…to hit the ball over the net…to write a book…to not burn dinner…heck, some days I’ll settle for simply getting my family all out of the door…
"What is time, really?" Craig Sager said beautifully in a speech Wednesday night at the ESPY awards, accepting his Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.
“Time is simply how you live your life…”
God bless these athletes for showing us, reminding us, inspiring us, that great things can happen at anything we want as long as we get up and try.
Live on, Happy Time Wasters, Live on,
Watch the Kerri Strug video here
Watch the Craig Sager speech here