Normalcy in Times of Crisis: Our Relationships to Sports

While Davidson Men’s Basketball has enjoyed wins in every game thus far, Correspondent Deen Haleem ’21 invites sports fans to reflect on how they engage with their favorite teams and games in hard times. Photo by Emma Brentjens ’21

Deen Haleem ‘21

Men’s basketball correspondent 

We all know what happened this past week, and we all know it was much bigger than a few basketball games. We saw hate revealed from the shadows of our campus, and as it was brought to light, we saw love rise to confront it.

Since then, much has been said about the extent of the hate and the questioned authenticity of the love. As a basketball correspondent, it’s far beyond my paygrade to comment on either. It’s not that I don’t have my own thoughts and opinions. It’s just that for this article, I want to focus on how sport fits into this situation, and whether or not it should.

In times of crisis, our culture seems to instinctively turn to sport. For examples, look no further than New York rallying behind the Yankees after 9/11, New Orleans turning to the Saints in the wake of Katrina, and Boston slowly lifting itself up as Red Sox slugger David Ortiz announced “This is our f***ing city!” in response to the Boston Marathon bombing. All this goes to show that in trying times, sports can lift us up and make us feel like the world is whole again. This sentiment was perhaps best expressed  by Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams who, after originally questioning why the Yankees played after 9/11, remarked that, “It started making sense when I saw the faces of people who had lost loved ones, people who needed something to take them away for a few minutes and see something else.” The final line strikes me because more often than not, I don’t think that’s how we should approach sport when faced with challenges.

Sports are some of the best story generators we have in our society because they show us the extent of what humans can do when they aspire to something great. They give us stories like Shaquem Griffin’s, in which  a kid with one hand grows up to play in the NFL alongside his brother. Sports give us LeBron James, a man born to a single mother in Akron, Ohio, who grew up to become the GOAT while debating with the President in his free time. More personally, sports gave a high school senior going through a rough time a fearless 5’9’ All-Star to watch every night, and reminded him that no matter what happened, the world hadn’t ended.

Sure, we can look to sports to escape the world, but in doing so, we lose the value of watching them. In these trying times, we should look to sports to find the best that humanity has to offer. We should look to the teamwork, brilliance, and heroism of teams and individuals. We should find people who remind us that this is our f***ing campus, and we have the power to make it an inclusive space: a space so powerful it rectifies hatred to celebrate and respect the inherent dignity and humanity of all.

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