Columns, Opinion

Burke’s Bully Pulpit: The power of sports

Nostalgia and stress don’t often go together, but both feelings butt heads whenever I’m watching a nail-biting game at Fenway. Sports have the power to bring massive amounts of people together. You could be sitting next to complete strangers, but when Tom Brady mounts a comeback late in the fourth quarter, everyone gets a hug. This family that gets created before, during and after sporting events is something that should be cherished and appreciated way more than it is. I know I could probably do a better job appreciating it.

The Boston Marathon is certainly not an exception. Thousands of runners are cheered on for 26.2 miles by friends, family and other spectators that just want to see the runners complete their goal. It brings people together in a time when politics dominates the landscape and makes it impossible to have a conversation about any social issue. And after 2013, I think the marathon is much more than a race to the people of Boston. It’s a symbol of never giving up.

Now that I go to BU, I have learned that it means a lot to the students who go to school here. While the reasons might have to do with getting a day off to party and not do schoolwork, I think that a lot of the people grasp what an incredible achievement it is to finish that race. It doesn’t matter what teams you root for, where you’re from or how you identify politically — Marathon Monday is a great day for the people of Boston.

While sports might collide with real issues — like in 2013 — they tend to give us a break from the real world. The best athletes on Earth give us a way to escape the issues of our daily lives. We get to turn on the TV, buy a ticket or listen to a radio broadcast for a few hours and pour our hearts into something that matters to us.

Sometimes, big sports fans get a bad reputation because of how much we care about something that is, honestly, just a game. For those who never grew up watching or playing sports in any capacity, it is almost impossible to understand. When something is ingrained in you from the day you were born, you develop an unconditional love whether you want to or not.

I love New England sports, and I always have. Maybe it’s because we’ve won so much since I’ve been born, but I’d like to believe I just love the whole culture. This definitely includes the Boston Marathon. The preparation that each athlete has to do in order to be the best in their respective sport is beyond incredible, and they always seem to give us a reason to put the TV on.

Some of my fondest memories revolve around the games that I love in one way or another. I remember throwing a touchdown pass in front of thousands of people in high school and feeling euphoric when the crowd erupted. Seeing Shea Hillenbrand hit a walk-off at Fenway and my dad convincing the grounds crew to throw me the ball is a memory that I will always cherish.

What I love the most is the bond that is created between teammates and fans alike. Once a sports bond is created, it’s almost never broken. I haven’t encountered anything like it yet. Watching teams that I support reminds me of being a kid again, and I love it. It brings me back to a simpler time in life, and I will always be grateful for that.

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