Muhammad Ali Death: Why do Sports Matter?

Forget championships, rings, knockouts and medals. Forget records.

Sports is an entertainment business that truly lacks character most of the time. At times, it raises moments of romance and excitement. Many can’t get into sports because it lacks substance or meaning. Why is sport exciting? What’s so thrilling about a number of overtrained type-A personality ridden individuals compete to be the greatest? Not really much, to be honest. I work with, speak to, and interact with professional athletes on a regular basis. Honestly, why does winning, improving, and wanting to be the best matter? In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t.

Muhammad Ali Death: Why do Sports Matter?

But then, people like Muhammad Ali and Nelson Mandela make us realize just what sports really mean. Ali was raised in the typical age of white supremacy and oppression. He wasn’t supposed to be world champion. He wasn’t even supposed to ever leave his town. To be frank, he was supposed to raise the horses that his family raised, and probably would have died in Vietnam if he followed the route he was handed in life. Ali decided that wasn’t right. He felt that not being granted a drink of water at a store due to his skin colour was not right. He fought for America in the Olympics, won medals, became champion, and he was just a black peasant to most of America. He was nothing. He could never be anything more. Ali ditched those medals and championships because his battle was for something greater. For equality.

Then, we got our favourite soundbites, we watched dominating sports performances. The racists turned into fans. Everyone reunited to watch a champion and an entertainer. Heck, these blacks are actually normal people? No way. He was confident, he spoke loudly, he believed in himself and that stung the oppressive hierarchy that we still reside in at times. The hierarchy that wants existing ways of life to stay. For the poor to stay poor, and for the rich to stay rich. For the world, to exactly be the same. He gave the oppressed a voice to be heard. As his white fans grew in numbers, it found a collective group of races to unite and cheer on a common individual. Unity.

So when people question what the point of sports are, these are reasons that sports make us romantic. These are the reasons fans live for. For the uniting of an entire city, country or races. For something better in the world. We are sports fans to witness something ideal. For that moment when we look around us, and realize that we’re all just in this together. A group of humans who, for maybe just one moment, can stand together and cheer in peace and harmony.

Racism will take a lot to disappear from society, but the likes of Ali put the groundwork for equality.

When we witness that ounce of character- between all the contracts, millions of dollars, and clauses- for one moment- the hairs on our necks stand. That bat-flip? Sidney Crosby‘s golden goal? Bobby Orr flying through the air? Paul Henderson? Joe Carter‘s Home Run? Who were you with at those moments? Who did you hug? Are you still friends with them?

It doesn’t matter. It never did. For that moment, you were brothers.

Except for a guy like Ali, those effects stay, decades later.

What is the point of sports? I guess you can say its quite complicated.

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