It is easy to think about the wins and the losses. It is easy to become annoyed when a player making millions of dollars holds out for an extra million or two. It is easy to complain about the outrageous ticket costs and concession prices at stadiums. It is easy to only see the video clips of the long home run or the vicious sack. But underneath all of the highlights and all of the green, there remains what sports is truly about….heart.
Last week was a week where it was easy to see the good in what sports offers. From Hurricane Relief efforts to tear inducing stories. From dreams coming true, to stepping onto a platform for a good cause; last week highlighted the Heart of Sports.
After Hurricane Harvey hit numerous sports figures, from Matt Carpenter to Kelvin Sampson, stepped up and led donation drives to support the Houston community. But no other figure was as prominent as Houston Texan defensive lineman J.J. Watt. Watt donated $100,000 of his own money to start a fundraising effort that has grown to over $31 million for Hurricane Harvey victims which will go towards food, clothing, and shelter. You can see video of his first game at home this season after the Hurricane here: J.J. Watt Reception
Last week also saw Sloane Stephens, all of 24 years old, winning the U.S. Open in tennis; not only capturing her first major but in doing so becoming the lowest ranked player to ever (83rd) to win a women’s singles title.
However my favorite story from last week was the story of Jake Olson. I remember seeing a story on him several years ago when he was a young teenager, getting a chance to meet players from his favorite team, USC football. I hadn’t thought about that story again until last week when I saw that Olson is now a member of the USC football team. What makes this story so special is that Jake is blind. That is right, he is a blind football player. Jake is a long snapper for the Trojans and last week he got the chance to play in a game; entering to snap on an extra point.
This is what sports is all about. A kid, now college aged man, living out his dream of playing football for a team that he grew up idolizing. A man overcoming the obstacle of being blind. A moment that not only he will cherish but that coaches, his teammates, and fans will forever remember. See video of Jake and his special moment here: Jake Olson Video
Behind the big money contracts, underneath all of the bravado and celebration, buried in the trash talk, obscured by Twitter trolls and noisy yelling TV analysts is the Heart of Sports. It is easy to forget what sports is really about. Sports is about dreams. They are about the hard work put in and the way they shape the athlete. Sports is about seeing men and women accomplish something that seems impossible. It is about coming together, no matter the state line or jerseys in your closet, to help a community. That is why we ultimately watch. Because every now and then we see the stories that don’t light up the scoreboard but light up our hearts. That make us feel and remember what it is really all about. Sports is about Heart.