Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Why I Chose My Career Path

As I sit here in my apartment, I'm thinking back on this past May and the hardship my family went through losing my Grandma Bell. Grandma Bell was the biggest Chicago Cubs fan you could have ever met. She would rather watch baseball over football. I don't think she ever missed a Cubs game in her long 78 years of life. Even in her final days, she would want the game on.

It's now October, and her Cubbies are making moves in the playoffs. They're making moves to the World Series. I keep thinking about how she said the only tattoo she would ever get is when the Cubs would win the World Series. I know right now that she is sitting up in Heaven with Grandpa Bell, watching every Cubs game with her Cubs blanket and giant mug in hand.

This type of fandom and story is why I got into sports. Sports do so much more than one can fathom. It's not only entertainment, it's something that allows people to step away from the hardships of life for a brief period of time and watch a game/match. It unites people together in a way that words really cannot describe. It causes friendly rivalries and brings strangers together without violence or harm. Getting stories out there like this and like so many others where athletics helped create a path for someone is what the world needs.

This is why I do what I do. People constantly question why I decided to put myself in thousands of dollars in debt to go to an out of state university for a journalism degree. My answer is always this:

"Sports journalism is way more than a stat line. It's more than a record or a championship. It's about the people in sports that makes sports journalism so great. For some people, athletics was the only way they could have received a college education. For others, athletics helped them find discipline and escape a bad neighborhood or a bad homelife. Sports could have helped give a disabled or sick person joy during their time of grief. Sports is the only thing that can unify the entire world for a short amount of time and forget about all the conflict and hardship. It's the only thing that can bring people from all races, genders, incomes, religions, ethnicities, ages, and neighborhoods to cheer someone on. What else can do that?"

People seem to forget that sports is so much more than entertainment. For myself, it's been a tremendous part of my life. I grew up playing sports constantly. I have plenty of guy friends who were athletes as well when I was younger who taught me the game. Gender was never a factor when they taught me the game of basketball, how to catch a football, how to pitch, or how to steal bases. It was something that we all enjoyed, and we all wanted to improve together, differences aside.

Sports gave me an outlet to create new friends from different backgrounds and cultures. Sports taught me a tremendous amount of discipline and how to respect authority, outside of what my parents taught me. It was also a way for me to stay active, and it was fun. I would play against my friends in rec leagues, and we would challenge each other on the court. If anything, sports helped strengthen the friendships I now currently have over the last 10 years.

What sports have done for my family is amazing, specifically my brother. Sports gave him a way to meet some of his current best friends. It gave him an outlet to relieve stress in a very healthy manner. Football taught him discipline, teamwork, and mutual respect for your fellow teammate on the gridiron. You can't learn that from a book.

Yes, sports are a form of entertainment. But it's also a sub-culture of our own world. It's its own entity that your fellow fans can understand. It's something that can formulate and change someone's outlook on life, on their career, their education, and their personality.

Although I am a White Sox fan, cheers Grandma Bell. Congrats to your Cubbies. Keep on wearing your bright Cubbie blue as I will continue to spread your story and everyone else's story on my journey as a sports journalist.