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World Series 2001

Natalia J. Garland

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Let me make a bold statement: I am not a sports fan. I have several objections to professional sports. Ideally, American athletes have served as heroes and role models for the male population. Now some are celebrities making huge salaries which far exceed their contribution to society. Some athletes seem to make a lot of playing errors, and some fans seem either to make excuses for their stars or to find self-satisfaction as armchair critics. No one demands their money back for a game poorly played. What bothers me most about professional sports is the antisocial and attention-seeking behaviors displayed by some athletes.

I never dreamed that I would be writing an essay about sports. That shows how much September 11th has changed my outlook on life. This year's World Series has brought together two teams that represent two facets of American enterprise. The New York Yankees come from an established background of revered baseball tradition. The Arizona Diamondbacks are a young startup club trying to find a place among the winners. Their coming together in competition created a tense drama for fans and for a nation needing stabilization. Fans cheered for their favorite team, but for the nation it was a win-win situation.

Our political leaders advise us to return to normalcy. The fact that this Series went on as scheduled and without any apparent terrorist attack is a tribute to America's democratic tenacity and love of freedom. I'm glad those sports fans braved the potential risks and attended the games. I'm glad those athletes still had the heart and courage to play. I'm glad that I'm still free to express my dislike of today's professional sports.

Sports as a concept has lost much of its meaning. For this reason, some people have lately taken notice of women's basketball. Whether at the college or professional level, these women athletes play with a true sense of sportsmanship, fair play, personal honor, and a love of the game itself. They have gained the respect of both female and male fans, and provide a new kind of role-modeling for young girls. These women have been able to provide leadership without the self-importance that permeates men's sports.

This year's World Series seemed to restore a similar quality of sportsmanship to baseball. Everyone seemed to agree that Game Seven needed a hero. There were a few men on both teams who were able to meet the challenge. Men who, not unlike the firefighters and police officers in New York City, gave it all they had. How can anyone really claim that one team was better than the other under such close circumstances? One team won, but both played with moments of excellence.

This is really what sports is about: to play with honor, win or lose. Yes, it is a great feeling to win, to be on top of the world, to go down in history. I would rather win than lose. But as we are taught as children, it is how you play that really matters. Each team member of the Diamondbacks and the Yankees will have to live with how he played. There are life's lessons to be learned on the playing field.

In our nation's return to normalcy, I hope we return to an earlier value system which included true heroes. Sometimes we need to look up to heroes as much as we need equality and the pursuit of happiness. (Written 11/05/01 - Revised 12/01/03)

[ADDED NOTE: In paragraph 5, I wrote, "Men who, not unlike the firefighters and police officers in New York City, gave it all they had." Upon retrospective review, I realize this sentence could have been written more clearly. At the time, only a couple of months after the 9/11 attack, there was concern that the World Series might be used as an opportunity for another terrorist attack. My intention was to validate the courage and commitment of the American people to continue living a normal life and not to feel intimidated or crippled by terrorism. I certainly do not place baseball players (although, ultimately, they were at some risk of attack and loss of life) in the same category of hero as police officers and firefighters who daily risk their lives for our safety.] (Written 05/17/10)

Until we meet again..............stay sane.

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Copyright 2001, 2003, 2010 Natalia J. Garland