During my summers off while I was in university, I had a range of horrible jobs: laborer at a gun factory, framer for a residential development, junior member of a concrete cutting crew. During breaks from the often exhausting and always demoralizing duties, I would sit around with the other workers, and together, we’d remind ourselves of the virtues of working with our hands and being able to work toward a visible accomplishment on a day-to-day basis.
While there is certainly some merit to believing such traits to be beneficial, we mostly elevated the glory of our menial tasks for the purpose of justifying our current state and forgetting the bad decisions that led us to physical labor as a livelihood. In addition to fooling ourselves in this manner, we’d mock office workers, imagining their professions to be less honorable than our own.
“How can they feel any measure of self-worth?” we’d ask ourselves.
Ten years later, as part of my job, I would embed a YouTube clip of a Callaway Golf executive putting a golf ball down two sets of staggered stairs and into a cup. If my former co-workers could only see me now.
Spending all day – every day – immersed in sports is a bit like working at Pizza Hut and eating nothing but pizza. If one is unburdened by such matters as personal health and waistline size, pizza is a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, too much of a wonderful thing is likely to leave one no longer believing the wonderful thing to be all that wonderful.
Sports are really, really great. However, the more time you spend reading and writing about a topic, the greater the chance its ugly little cracks and cobwebs will begin to emerge. This is why, over time, the focus of writers and fans alike becomes embittered by the more negative aspects of sports. The cheating. The discrimination. The exploitation. The inequality. It all becomes overwhelming. We forget why sports are so great, and why they fascinated us long before we grew caustic to what they could offer. And so, that’s where The Week In Sports Happiness comes into play.
Every week, I’ll present the ten things that are making me happy from the world of sports. It might be a particular article, it could be a winning streak, it may even be an animated GIF. No matter what, it’s from sports, it made me feel good inside, and I hope it does the same for you.
Something tells me that if this was NCAA Football’s National Championship game being written about, the Montgomery Advertiser in Alabama might have gotten it right. However, it wasn’t football, it was basketball, and it was actually Louisville edging Michigan for the NCAA Men’s title, not Syracuse.
The lengths people will go to make their brackets turn out better.
At the 1999 X-Games, Tony Hawk rotated 900 degrees on his skateboard in the air. It had never been done before. After this accomplishment, he retired from professional competition, but still, to this day, participates in personal exhibitions and shows that benefit charities. Any sparkle that the 44-year-old may have lost on his board through the declines that aging bring has apparently been regained through family life with his daughter Kadence. And glitter, too.
Mo Farah won two Olympic track and field gold medals last summer in the 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres. He also happens to be the current European and World champion at the shorter distance. For two years straight, Farah has been named the European Athlete of the Year, and at the end of 2012, he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to athletics. After finding so much success at these distances, Farah is looking for new challenges, attempting to move up to competitive marathons.
For most intents, and likely even more purposes, he’s a pretty big deal. So, when WDSU anchor LaTonya Norton, out of New Orleans, asked the European, World and Olympic champion runner, “Haven’t you run before? This isn’t your first time?” he probably had a case for feeling somewhat slighted. Consider that the runner had just won a half-marathon by completing the course in just over an hour, and you could likely forgive Farah for walking away from the interview or adopting a more condescending tone with the television personality.
However, if Farah is a great runner, his patience and humility make him an even greater person. Instead of reacting negatively to the television presenter’s lack of awareness, he politely completed the awkward interview despite it most likely being a complete and utter waste of his time.
As for Norton, I realize not every newscaster is Will McAvoy, but the most perfunctory of internet searches by her or her team would’ve revealed Farah’s status, and saved the anchor from what is turning into international embarrassment.
We often dismiss sports as little more than a distraction, which is normally accurate, but from time to time can be a severe underestimation. This is certainly the case with the story of Mitchell Marcus, the team manager of the Coronado High School Thunderbirds basketball team from El Paso, Texas. Marcus, who suffers from a developmental disorder, was given the opportunity by his team’s coach to dress for the last game of the regular season.
It was an honor just to be in uniform for the high school student who grew up loving basketball, but with a minute left, as part of his coach’s plan, he was surprised to be put into the actual game as a player. His team used multiple attempts to set him up for a basket, but each time he had difficulty receiving the pass or else he missed on his shot completely. With time winding down, Coronado used its last possession to once again set Marcus up, but the pass went out of bounds.
On the resulting inbound pass, Jonathon Montanez, from the rival basketball team at Franklin High School, got Marcus’s attention and passed the ball right to him, giving him one more chance at a basket. He hit his shot and the high school gymnasium erupted in applause, carrying Marcus off the court.
Montanez’s actions – the ultimate show of sportsmanship – contributed to making sports meaningful by understanding the relative unimportance of the score in comparison to a dream, and using the game as a means of facilitating that dream coming true. No, that’s not dust in your eye.
On Tuesday, at a pre-qualifier for the Women’s Australian Open, Daniela Holmqvist, drove her tee shot on the fourth hole of the Royal Canberra Golf Club into the rough. After punching out on her next stroke, she felt a severe pain in her ankle. It was then that a black spider was spotted, later identified as a Black Widow. Seconds after that, the LPGA golfer found herself on the ground in pain.
After being informed of how powerful the spider’s venom can be, the Swedish-born, University of California graduate, didn’t waste any time with her suddenly swelling leg. According to Golf Digest:
She pulled a tee out of her pocket (“it was the only thing I had handy,” she told Svensk Golf) and used it to cut open the wound so she could squeeze out the venom and keep it from spreading inside her body.
Ho hum. Just a regular day at the office. With paramedics in tow, Holmqvist proceeded to finish out her round following the on-course self-surgery, shooting a 74. Unfortunately, the superhuman tally (given the circumstances) was four shots shy of qualifying for the Major, perhaps the only bite more stinging than that of the spider’s.