Service of Sports

April 2nd, 2010

Categories: Competition, Leisure, Sports


I was an athletic kid and while I hardly sit still these days, I’m no longer athletic. In middle and high school, we started off each game cheering for the opposite team. So maybe that’s what’s wrong with me—I’m a sports dyslexic.


Apart from listening on Sunday mornings to Rick Wolff and his “Sports Edge” program on WFAN radio—I’m fascinated by the psychology of his discussions about youth sports—and with the exception of watching the Olympics, I was never a fan or spectator though family members were and are.


I know how important sports are to millions, so I asked 11 people to share their passion and put the spotlight on the service of sports as clearly sports serve a huge role in mental and physical health, as well as a critical place in people’s lives in intangible ways.


Judy Schuster, retired PR executive: I like the excitement that college sports on TV brings to my living room and the extra excitement that I get from attending an occasional game.  I watch some professional sports, but really prefer college.  I look at the college athlete as playing for the “fun” of the game, while the professional athlete plays for the money (witness Joe Mauer’s recent signing of an eight-year $184 million contract, although he may be an exception, he plays for the money and the fun!) 


footballCollege sports let me “support” my college team (Michigan) and I follow it regularly, even subscribing to a monthly newsletter on Michigan sports (my spouse gets the Iowa one).  We both support any sports in which the Big Ten is involved, and we enjoy the competition that Iowa-Michigan games bring to our lives. A lot of yelling and screaming, and sometimes foul language, occurs in our living room during exciting games. My spouse and I both like to “coach” the teams, and we sometimes don’t agree with the plays the real coaches have called.  


Our granddaughter, Jordan, already knows and sings the Michigan fight song (I got to her before Bill, so she is a Michigan fan!)  


I prefer football, with basketball a close second, but am interested in most sports, with the exception of wrestling and baseball (the latter is too slow for me).   I don’t participate in any sports, although I enjoyed swimming when I was younger.   In my era, girls didn’t play basketball or baseball or hockey, all of which are open to girls now.  Personally, I think that is wonderful. Although she’s only six I pay for Jordan to take lessons in basketball, soccer, T-ball and swimming.  Down the road, she can choose which ones have the most appeal.   I think she is already leaning toward basketball because of her cousin Tyler’s interest and the fact that she, too, is going to be tall.


DB, political activist and interior designer. I grew up in the Province of Newfoundland, Canada so I do follow hockey ( which I played in my youth on the pond across from my home and school), all ice skating events from speed, figure or ice dance,  and Curling curling(just because every Newfie has an interest in Curling).


An avid swimmer—I swam competitively in my youth–my day begins with one hour in the pool.  My first half mile of freestyle is both therapeutic and relaxing as I ease into bilateral and erythematic breathing. Any tension in my body disappears with each long stoke.  I continue my swim with breast stroke and really begin to stretch out with my favorite – backstroke. I conclude my final 10 minutes in the pool on a kick board doing a dolphin kick. Mentally without interruption I plan my day and work out details of a project that I may undertake that day.

I swam with a Masters group into my fifties but found I needed to swim at my own pace in my sixties. My best swims are from May though September in an outdoor long course pool (50 meters). I swim short course (25 meters) from October through April.  I also take a Pilates class twice a week which enables me to engage my core muscles more effectively as I swim. I love belonging to a sub-culture that requires a skill and discipline.

This year my lifeguard, Mike, lost 30 pounds walking the pool circumference while guarding which has made me ponder the value of walking versus swimming.


Matt Mecs, media account exec: Now that I am out of high school, not as much opportunity to play sports, but one HUGE reason to do so – running on a treadmill or whatever is so BORING.  Playing sports is fun, and you are exercising without even dwelling on it. I wrestled in high school though, and it totally built character.  Not just a cliche!


basketballMMF, retired school teacher: March Madness is my favorite time of year for sports.  I do not follow basketball at any other time but love the excitement and high energy of the college players.  It shows so clearly what practice, perseverance and, yes, a bit of luck, can accomplish.  To see the joy and elation of the Cinderella teams when they win has to make you smile (at least!).  The only other sport I watch is golf but usually only the big tournaments.


baseballHomer Byington, retired international banker: In 1942, when I was a lonely little boy having just moved to America for the first time, I discovered on the radio a baseball broadcaster, Arch MacDonald, who did the Washington Senators baseball games, not “live” from the stadium, but from a ticker tape, like they used to use on Wall Street. He was wonderful–a friend.


Ever since, I’ve been hooked on sports broadcasts. They are familiar and keep me company, besides I like all the statistics. I used to listen to baseball games, but the team I followed folded — twice. I now mostly listen to professional football broadcasts on TV. I’d prefer to hear the broadcasts on radio, but the games of the team I follow are not broadcast in the NYC area. 


Football is often great theatre but horribly brutal. I also enjoy watching golf, far more before Tiger came on the scene with his boorish, rude, selfish antics, which are much more distasteful to me than his stupid womanizing. Golf used to be elegant because the players were sportsmen, gracious, honest and self-disciplined and self-policing.


I have seen in person over the last 50 years one golf tournament, two football games, one hockey game and two baseball games. I never played any sport with even the remotest competence, but I used to enjoy playing golf very badly, in part because of the betting.


golfKF, retired magazine editorMy sister and I play golf at the Lake, because it’s a short, 9-hole, par-3 course. It’s a way to socialize for us and we love it. Because of that, we watch golf on TV, we volunteered for LPGA tournaments, and have gone to the US Open years ago when it was at Westchester Country Club. By dabbling in the game, we can so appreciate the proficiency of the golfers in tournaments. Even though Tiger Woods’ reputation is in the toilet, no one can take away from his ability as a golfer. He is incredible.


Patty Raddock, publishing professional–I began following professional sports as a young girl because I didn’t have much choice in the matter. Dad dominated the television dial. The whole family got into the spirit, and that continues to this day for me. horseracing

I enjoy rooting for the Yankees; I know all of the player’s stats and I watch or listen to as many games as I can. I love the Jets and the Giants, and I watch each and every game. I can’t wait for the major tennis tournaments; I know most of the players (I especially adore Rafael Nadal), and love to see the up-and-comers emerge. I look forward to horse racing’s Triple Crown races and TiVo them so I can watch them over and over again. And every two plus years, I am captivated by the Olympics, although I swear each time that I won’t waste my time watching. I used to love to attend any and all games; today I prefer to watch sporting events on my HD television from the comfort of my couch. And I wear out my TiVo with my own slow motion replays.


Why do I continue to watch and root for my teams or favored players? I used to enjoy discussing and dissecting every game/match/race/event with my father on the phone at their conclusion. Those conversations ended a couple of years ago, but I continue to be an observer. Why? Habit, to begin with. Loyalty for sure. But I still enjoy the strategy, the impossible plays, the come-from-behind excitement, the thrill of a pennant race. It’s just a part of me now.

I played softball, soccer, basketball and tennis as a young girl, but today all I am able to do is watch.


Tom Stier, commercial mortgage banker: Sports are, have always been and will likely always be a big part of my life.  I have been and am a willing participant as well as an ardent fan.  Football, basketball and baseball were the staples of my youth and I could not play or watch enough games to get my fill.  


Participation at my age and skeletal condition is more limited.  I’m more suited to a round of golf or a friendly tennis match these days.  However, I continue to be a big time fan with an expanding menu of sports and players to root for.  


Sports inspire me to set goals, put forth my best effort, face challenges and become a better team player.  They remind me that a little bit of talent supported by commitment, focus and perseverance can lead to great achievement.  Sports are not life…but they sure add to the spice of it. 


Jason Wang, college senior: Participating in sports really changed my life.


Sports not only motivates me to compete in every aspects of my life, but also teaches me to improve, mature and grow as an individual and surprisingly, alleviates my stress.


In high school, I was the captain of the Brooklyn Tech Handball Team, and my goal was to win the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) Championship before I graduated. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as I planned, but I was able to inspire and build a solid team with great players. The next year, our team captured the championship. In addition, I gained some invaluable lessons: Building a strong foundation is the key to success and patience is a virtue.


I currently swim and play handball. I enjoy swimming leisurely because it clears my mind and allows me to think of literally nothing. I continue to play handball competitively where I observe and learn from others to reach to the top.


Hank Goldman, owner of a small NYC ad agency: If one participates in sports, it’s healthy, and exhilarating, and aids body and soul.


I used to play in a “dads” softball game every week, and it was just plain fun. If you do the best you can, the “guys” are your buddies–win or lose!!


fansIf one cheers and roots for sports teams locally, it establishes territory and bragging rights, and in this day and age–using the U-Conn women’s Huskies Basketball team as an example (they have won 73 + games in a row!)— it shows how gender-transparent sports can be!!


Sports fans can be vicious, as soccer fans in Europe seem to battle each other at major events. Or it can be good natured “ribbing” as in the USA. 


Take Boston Red Sox fans, vs. NY Yankees fans. (Not that there can be much discussion about just WHO WON more “world championships!) But the norm seems to be to just root, root, root for the home team. —-It gives one a sense of pride!

I still do not understand OLYMPIC sports. Jim Thorpe was stripped of his Olympic medals in his lifetime, for getting paid [in meals] at summer baseball games and yet today the major teams consist of ALL PROS in the line ups!   —– Why?


Lauren Dreyling Konicky college senior: Sports is a form of entertainment.  What contributes toward the entertainment?  The competitiveness, spending time with friends, eating good food, watching attractive players, being able to watch people exceed their body’s typical capabilities.


Which sports? The simple answer for me is any sport which involves a team– college football and baseball–rather than an individually played sport. 


fieldhockeyI enjoy watching NCAA sports because they are all about competition, bettering the individual player and team and having fun.  You could say this is the same thing with pro but it’s not. Playing pro sports is a way to earn a living while entertaining others.  There is so much heart and pride in NCAA sports that is beyond the level of pro sports.  Furthermore, NCAA sports contribute to the athletic reputation of an entire university and college- an institution where students are there to exceed academically, yet rally behind a sports team for enjoyment, pride and bragging rights.  Both football and baseball are fast-moving sports that allow players to individually shine but also contribute to an entire team.  I also like that these sports are played outdoors and that people typically camp out and barbeque before a big game. It’s about the entire experience, not just the game.


I like to participate—- competitively- in softball and field hockey.  Entertainment- any team-oriented sport that is outdoors.  Why? They are physical, they require a strict amount of training, (the average person can’t just dive in and throw a softball at 40pmh accurately). These sports are about 75% mental and 25% physical-  they are a complete mental challenge that push you beyond the limits you think possible.


How does sports—being a fan or participant–serve you?





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