The QATSPY® GOLFER’S Inside-the-Leather Sport Page

By: Charles W. Boatright

Source of photograph Wikipedia AP Photo of Mississippi State University playing Loyola Basketball team in Lansing, Michigan

Sports is more than a Competition Played Out on a Field; but the Impact on American Culture

Sports has been an important component of our modern-day culture that even extends back to ancient Greece, where the Olympics were organized and played between nations. The Greeks who held philosophy and intellectual pursuit in such high regard and esteem realized the importance of athletics had in their society and its positive impact.

Sports still remains more than just an athletic competition between teams and individuals, but forms the basic principles for American society, business, and politics. It was sports that actually broke barriers that once stood for decades against the basic truth THAT ALL MEN WERE CREATED EQUAL. During the ESPN eight (8) part series entitled Saturday in the South, Herschel Walker, who played running back for the University of Georgia, recounted an incident that occurred after a football game.

After one of Georgia’s games, Herschel Walker was being escorted by security from the locker room. Herschel described how an elderly man walked up to his security detail that temporary stopped the man. Herschel motioned to let the elderly man through to see him. The man’s only words to Herschel were, “I was affiliated with the KKK and I was wrong.” This is the sheer impact that sports has played in our society as a nation.

The Democratic held segregated south where three Democratic Governors (Orval Faubus of AR, Ross Barnett of MS, and George Wallace of AL) opposed Blacks attending state institutions or even competing in integrated sports. Democratic Gov. Ross Barnett refused to let the Mississippi State University basketball team travel to compete with the integrated Loyola basketball team in March of 1963. This took place in most of our lifetimes.

It must have taken tremendous amount of courage for the President of MSU, Dean Colvard, and Head Coach Babe McCarthy to defy the Mississippi Governor’s order. The MSU team secretly travel to Lansing, Michigan to play in the game where MSU lost the game, but won by breaking decades old racial barriers. Even though the MSU team lost the basketball game, they won in helping break the color barrier and changing the Democratic held South forever. The MSU Basketball team returned home to a hero’s welcome.

The featured photograph above is one of sports’ greatest, iconic AP photographs that caught the opening handshake between MSU’s Stan Brinker (left) and Loyola’s Vic Rouse. This is history caught in a black and white photograph. The title of the photograph is called Game of Change. I would have called the photograph the Game Changer.

Sports Applied to Politics

If the electorate held our politicians to the same standard as sports fans hold their football teams and coaching staff, there would be no question of what we could achieve as a nation. One thing a team or coaching staff can’t do in sports is fake performance and just have boaster rhetoric for political campaigns.

As in sporting competition, a team’s rhetoric is only as good until they take the field and face the other team head on. Most political parties wouldn’t even field a team if the electorate kept stats on their politicians, like avid fans keep stats on their teams. An avid sport fan can breakdown their team’s performance down into several categories. There would be no doubt that some states would issue a recall vote for their politicians based on what they get accomplished while in Congress.

Relief Pitching, Good Pitching Stops Good Hitting

You usually can tell how a baseball game end up, based on the team’s pitching. If after three innings a team starts having to go to their bullpen early, you know they will more likely lose the game. In the 2019 World Series, the Washington Nationals prove how good pitching can beat good hitting in the last four games. But the reverse is also true, that good hitting can dismantle a bullpen.

You can tell if a political party has their stuff by the number of relief pitchers they have to use in making a point instead of relying on their starter. If their starter can’t finish the first two innings, chances are, their proposals won’t work. If after five innings a team is on their fourth relief pitcher, the chances the team winning the series is in serious doubt.

As a Country, We need to Apply Sportsmanship to Politics

Sportsmanship is a huge part of the game. The characteristics of sportsmanship are humility, integrity, commitment, perseverance, respect (for teams, game, and rules), honor, honesty, fairness, sacrifice, responsibility, preparation, discipline, trustworthiness, and a hard work ethic, to name just a few.

The other characteristic of sportsmanship is the ability to focus like a laser and not get distracted by all the noise. One other thing about sportsmanship is the ability to avoid revenge tactics.

With the odds stacked against you, the small things, performed consistently well, will allow for success (Coach John Wooden). Several parallels can be drawn between sports and life. This is the reason that organized sports should be encouraged at a young age.

The lessons learned from sports can allow a young person to reach their potential in life, personal as well as professional. Perseverance, faith, and confidence are the best responses to any difficult situation we face, instead of feeling resentment, showing anger, or seeking revenge. These reactions can only lead to defeat of a person or political party. The best revenge is winning and being successful. Analytics and numbers don’t lie!

Most of our failures aren’t what happens to us, but how we respond to them. Regardless of the distractions, if a team or an individual stays with their game plan of producing results, the team or individual and their fans will see those results realized.

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