Saturday, June 18, 2016

Sports and Their Significance: A Cleveland Observation

I have been thinking about how to explain to non sports fans and/or, non native Clevelanders, why this Cavs journey means so much to Cleveland, and why so many people are drawn to cheer on our sports teams. For this city, especially, we haven't had a championship won by any of our major league sports teams since 1964. Now you can say, "so what? How does winning or losing have anything to do with your daily life?" and in doing so you would be right. Whether or not the Cavs, Indians or Browns win or lose doesn't affect you directly in any way. 

However, I would say this back. Sports teams are seen by any city as an extension of the city. They are ambassadors to the rest of the country. When they win it equals success, and the people who live here then, by extension feel that in a small way, we are successful too. The same goes for when any of our teams lose. We feel that also represents us to the world.

Because Cleveland has suffered so much financial decline in the last 20 years, we don't have the strong economy or large amount of businesses to bring us national attention in a positive light. Yes, we did snag the Republican National Convention, but only half of the country really has interest in that because only half the country are republicans anyway! 

Which brings up another point, sports create unity in a city. When people are together cheering on a team, no one is arguing politics or philosophies. A democrat can cheer next to a republican. A Christian can high five an atheist. A gun owner can toast a beer with a pacifist. 

While ideally the Church should create the same kind of unity, so often differences in theology can drive us apart instead of keeping us unified on the Truth of Jesus coming to save humanity from their sins. This is where sports provides that example in a positive way, and one more people should be in tune with, and enjoy. 

Ultimately that is why sports draws people in, because it satisfies a human longing to be a part of something bigger than we are, and brings us together with those who may be different than us, and gives us something in common. It then can bridge the gap to having genuine friendships with people and forge paths towards seeing them for who they are, people whom Jesus does love.

So that is why tomorrow night Cleveland will be at a fever pitch of excitement and hope, because if the Cavs pull it off, Cleveland will look good to the watching country, and everyone will remember the team that overcame a 3-1 game deficit and starred down elimination three games in a row and didn't flinch. No team has ever done it; tomorrow, Cleveland looks to write a solo chapter in sports history! 

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