· Are you a sports fan? Are you on the edge of your seat every time your team is in the playoffs or player is in the penalty box?
· Maybe you're like me and played religiously as a child but later lost interest.
· Perchance your interest lies in something completely different, which is part of what makes humanity beautiful.
Recently, I sat down with two of my best friends, Chris and Chae Clements. I was a relatively good player as a kid, but these two brothers set the bar at my high school for what it meant to be athletic. I was on a mission. I was going to find what it is about sports that gathers so many people.
· Me: So, let’s start with a broad question. What is it you love about sports? Many people see watching athletics as interesting as watching someone eat. What keeps you dedicated to a lifetime of games?
· Chae: I would describe it as a gestalt, almost like an aura over sports as a whole. It’s a way to get immersed inside a feeling of satisfaction.
· Me: Could you talk a little bit more about ‘mimicking’ and what that does?
· Chae: Yeah, I mean, sports are everything. Look around you at what humans are and always have been. Far back into prehistoric times, we’ve always hunted, we’ve always fought. I think it goes a lot deeper than a game on TV. I think sports speak to us on the level of what it means to be a person.
· Me: What is it you like about following a specific team?
· Chris: It’s just fun. Our uncle played for the Boston Bruins and it’s a good feeling to stand up for something that feels like it’s a part of you.
· Me: You’ve alluded to the fact that sports are kind of a philosophy to you. Do you feel like you carry that with you, everywhere? I mean, do you feel like sports are a main reference point for you in life?
· Chae: Not everywhere. It’s something we do for fun and something to take our mind off everything else. But you’re right. In a way it taught us values early on such as always trying your best, working as a team, and being a good loser. That goes back to what you said, so I suppose sports do tie into everything, although we don’t always think about it consciously.
· Me: You mentioned as we were talking earlier today about sports carrying an aura. And Chris, I know you’re playing hockey in the adult league. If you could describe hockey as a color, what would that color be?
· Chris: Um. I’d have to say azure blue.
· Me: Why do you think kids being encouraged to play sports at a young age is a healthy idea?
· Chae: I guess it’s a lot like the animal kingdom. When baby cubs, etc., spar with each other and have matches with each other, its purpose is to get them ready for hunting and protecting the pack. Same thing with kids. As they play and have fun, kids are training for their future role as successful adults.
· Me: From a personal perspective, I can relate to playing sports as a kid. Through grade school, I loved to wrestle, shoot hoops, and daydream I was the next Wayne Gretzky or Michael Jordan. But what about watching sports? What’s the allure in that?
· Chae: Watching sports is kind of like meditating. It’s a good chance to step back and ponder life. You feel a sense of camaraderie when you watch sports. And I think it comes from having played in the past and knowing what it feels like.
· Me: What would you say about an adult who didn’t play sports as a kid?
· Chae: I think it would be harder to get into watching because you can’t really relate.
· Me: What do you think about a child who’s not naturally athletic playing sports?
· Chae: It still holds value. You might not be the best player, but you still have to support your team and do your part. I was always good at sports but growing up my family moved, and kids gave me a hard time. When they saw that I was such a good athlete, they stopped, and we were friends. Playing sports is largely about respect for kids.
· Me: Now I remember in high school, you were the guy who all the girls wanted to be with!
· Chae: Sports were the reason I was good with the ladies (laughs). It was also the reason I had good social skills.
· Me: Now we talked about your philosophy of sports. Did you think about this when you played as a kid?
· Chae: Philosophical stuff didn’t occur to me until in retrospect when I was an adult. Back when I was a kid, it was all about living in the moment and enjoying the game.
· Me: What is the grand, take-home message you want people to know about athletics? Where do you see your role in sports for the rest of your life?
· Chae: I think the main thing about sports is that it teaches you confidence. I also think it gives you passion, motivation, goal-setting, and a way to express yourself. As far as ‘rest of your life’, sports are something that you carry with you.
· Me: Are there other activities you can do, whether it’s from the time you’re a child or if it’s later in life, that teach you the same, or at least similar lessons as sports?
· Chae: Definitely! I think you can do that with a lot of things. One example might be music. If you grow up playing music and learn to play with a band, it teaches you the same creativity and teamwork that sports does.
When I walked out of Chae’s house from our interview, a strange feeling came over me. My mind had reached a different plane and I saw things from a new perspective. The perspective I hadn’t reached since my years playing hockey as a kid in small-town Montana.
Closing the front door, one final thought occurred. It was about when Chris mentioned that if he had to give hockey a color, it would be azure blue.
Sports are more than a mere trivial competition.
They are an Aura of Athletics, and everyone has their place on the team.
Picture of my friend Chris playing ice hockey at our rink.