Having recently attended the 2019 NBA All-Star game, I was truly in awe of the drama and athleticism displayed by the dueling Team LeBron and Team Giannis. As the teams went head-to-head on the court, I was struck by a great appreciation for the players, the game, but also for sports in general. Sports may be one of the most important aspects of our modern culture, providing so many positive qualities and benefits and teaching us about ourselves. In a way, athletic competition represents the best of us.
Since the earliest ages of the human story there has been a deep honor attached to sport. Pushing the physical limitations of the body and competing against others connects so strongly with our primal instincts. As time has developed, so have the sophistication and functionality of our favorite cultural pastimes.
Sports are so much more than exercise and entertainment. They are a great teacher of qualities like discipline, perseverance and focus. They show us the pay-off of hard work and the slow, progressive improvement of skill made possible only through practice and planning. Viewing and appreciating sports can be a near meditative experience, helping us to live in the moment and unplug from our stressful lives.
The benefits for children are just as profound. Even though only a very select few will ever make it to the professional stage, parents should encourage their children to partake in some form of a sporting activity. A child who grows up involved in school or community sports is more likely to develop other valuable traits like teamwork, social skills, leadership and self-esteem. Not to mention, it’s a fantastic way to combat the national crisis of rising obesity rates and sedentary lifestyles in our children.
When you think about it, sport represents a microcosm of the game of life. Both take effort, hard work, a combination of skill and luck, and require the player to have skin in the game to achieve the level of success that they want.
On a deeper note, aside from the numerous health and development benefits of sports, they serve a unique and powerful function within our American culture. Baseball, basketball and football have each played significant roles in solidifying the country and providing us with fantastic examples of what makes our country great.
While the media may relish salacious stories of misbehaving athletes, the truth is that some of our greatest role models and American heroes come from the sports arena. Our history is replete with figures who used sports as a way to transform their lives from troubled beginnings, transforming themselves into iconic figures encapsulating the American dream. The aforementioned LeBron James, Serena Williams, Babe Ruth, Muhammed Ali and so many others all overcame modest means to become international representatives for American exceptionalism.
In addition, many American sports figures eventually venture into the world of business and use their skills and work ethic to create new possibilities that enrich our culture. Whether that’s Magic Johnson and his work in community outreach, Michael Jordan’s legendary apparel line, Serena and Venus Williams’ Tennis Academy, or Tony Hawk’s skateboards, sports are increasingly a proven gateway into entrepreneurship and job creation.
Perhaps the greatest feature of sports is the way it can create unity in times of political upheaval and division. When America observes the talent of a truly great sportsman in action, they aren’t watching a Democrat or a Republican, but an American. Sports of all types give us the opportunity to set aside our differences, relate to one another on a human level in appreciation of talent.
The subject of sports may seem frivolous or inconsequential to some “big brained” elitist intellectuals, but sports is an essential part of the American human experience and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
As the season continues and we tune in for countless top 10 plays, please take a moment to consider that our sports heroes are another unique ingredient that makes this country great.
Armstrong Williams is manager/sole owner of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the year. Watch Right Side Forum every Saturday Live Newschannel 8 TV 28 in DC, 10:30 a.m. – 11 a.m. and repeats 6:30 p.m. est. Follow on Twitter @arightside and visit online atwww.ArmstrongWilliams.com