Sports have been a part of my life since the time I was able to walk. Some of the most incredible and humbling memories in my life were when I played. From the first time I stepped up to the plate in T-ball to the time my brother sprinted down the field and gave me a hug after I caught my first varsity touchdown, I never lost my love for the games.
Athletics have changed the world, because they’re not always about winning. They’re about making relationships with your coaches, having your teammates’ backs and achieving goals that you never thought were attainable. It’s about being a role model for the next generation, giving people something to believe in and inspiring the people around you.
According to a Sky Sports article and Stanford University studies, Mohamed Salah’s idenity as a Muslim soccer player for Liverpool reduced the number of hate crimes toward Muslims in Merseyside, England by almost 19% in 2018. Small acts of kindness and a humble attitude from the forward were able to change the mindset of so many people, as well as the culture around him.
In 2014, Eric Berry, a defensive back for the Kansas City Chiefs, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. His chances of continuing in the NFL seemed slim to none. However, in June 2015, he beat cancer, returned the next season and was selected for the fourth Pro Bowl of his career.
Sports brings spectators together. Those who watch their favorite team are welcomed into a fan base. Cheering and high-fives create moments of pure bliss when something incredible happens to the colors you root for.
I remember going to a Phoenix Suns game when I was younger and sitting in the seventh row in the middle of the court. I remember watching the star of the Suns, Steve Nash, go down with a broken nose midgame. The whole crowd gasped, waiting to see what would happen. When Nash came in with nothing but a bandage across his nose, the crowd roared with excitement. His strength and perseverance gave the fans in the arena someone to believe in.
Even though so many sports fans have athletes to look up to, admiration can go both ways. Washington Wizards point guard John Wall had an opportunity to change the life of a young girl who battled leukemia. Even though Miyah Telemaque-Nelson died, Wall said she inspired him to be someone who is remembered for caring and making a difference.
In the end, sports have always been about the inspiration and change they bring to the world.