What does Sports do for People?



By Sigrid Weidenweber

If you study antiquity, you will find that sports, in different forms, was always present in societies. One can go as far back as the monolithic. There are many reasons why that is so. We all have watched puppies, kittens, goats, horses and other young animals participate in playful combats, as they they test their own strength against their future competitors. This is there where it all begins. Later in life, animals test their prowess only in combats leading to sexual conquest. Humans are the only species indulging in sport for diverse reasons—social, cultural and martial. The early beginnings for preparing a body had material reasons. A fit, strong body was better able to hunt prey. For that purpose, most tribes held races, shooting contests with bows and arrows, blow guns and spears. The reward—more meat and dominance. Later, the preparation for war or hunt was extended to include social contests.  Men are competitive, even after hunts or war. The competitive spirit became glorified among the Athenians who worshipped perfect, powerful, beautiful bodies. Hence—the Olympics with a display of power and beauty.

A few thousand years later, brings us to today. The American nation has been unified by their sports. Baseball—I was not three weeks welcomed into the country, when my neighbor a woman of German descent, came and told me she had tickets for the Pirates, and I would just have to go. I did, reluctantly, Baseball meant nothing me. But then, I saw Willie Stargell hit one out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Forbes Field. What crazy luck! Only 18 balls were ever hit out of that stadium, and of those Willie Stargell managed the feat seven times. That and football was the stuff that inaugurated me into American culture. My husband and son were basketball players, my daughter played basketball and ran track, is it any wonder that we communally watched all sports? Everyone we knew did the same. Large games turned into parties. Friday night was spent on the school’s football field or the gymnasium watching basketball. Sports was the glue holding whole communities together—much like church.

Sport has the power to change the world.

It has the power to inspire.

It has the power to unite people in a way

That little else does. It speaks to youth in

a language they understand.

Sports can create hope where once was despair.

It is more powerful than governments in

breaking down racial barriers.

It laughs in face of all types of discrimination.    

Nelson Mandela

Then, ten—fifteen years ago, flicking through the radio channels I heard an announcer predict: They want to kill football. Football is too masculine, too violent, they will tame it to the point that no will want to watch. Well, that did not happen—but Colin Kaepernick happened. There he was. To most Americans an obscure figure; in the football world he was at first very successful. He lost and won back his staring position with the 49ers, missing the playoffs for three consecutive years. Suddenly he was not a hot commodity anymore. In 2016, surprise, he became a protest figure against racial injustice, police brutality, and systematic oppression in America.

More surprise, despite the backlash from the public, his protest grew. It became popular among the players to belong to the movement. No respecting the flag. It started with taking the knee—now they stay in their lockers during the anthem, using the urinals.

How can these sports prima donnas, making millions and being pampered like race horses, dare use their positions for political purpose? It seems, it made them even more money than playing football, for left-leaning capitalists like NIKE and others are paying bigtime for protests.

Lately, speaking with football friends, I have observed that they have not followed the progress of their teams. Their interest is down. They are not watching much on TV, nor are they buying sports paraphernalia. Could it be that Kaepernick—all by himself—has accomplished what could not have been done before? Could it be that the “movement” is sawing off the branch on which they sit?

An interesting thought. Isn’t it? And while protests against the American flag are being tolerated and supported, two kids running with an American flag onto the football field are being punished. It is time to wake up America!

I am leaving you with thoughts written by John Whitlock, a sports columnist for Outkick.com.

America is a shining example of sports’ transformative power. The games we play, the games at the center of our social behavior, combine with our founding principles to enhance the American experience. America’s enemies know this, which is why the culture war has moved to our arenas and stadiums.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal

 Sigrid Weidenweber grew up in communist East Berlin, escaping it using a French passport. Ms. Weidenweber holds a degree in medical technology as well as psychology and has course work in Anthropology.  She is co-founder of Aid for Afghans.  Weidenweber has traveled the world and lived with Pakistani Muslims, learning about the culture and religion. She is a published author and lecturer. You can find her books on Amazon.com

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