Remember greatness for love of the game

By Dave Fultz

Sports immortality can be won or lost in the blink of an eye, but true greatness lives on forever.

With Tom Brady and the New England Patriots rolling into the Super Bowl still unbeaten, my mind has been focused on these once-in-a-lifetime moments more and more.

Fans are often trapped in a modern landscape that has had to discuss steroids in baseball more than the World Series, a referee scandal more than the NBA Finals and Michael Vick more than the Super Bowl.

This truth is the result of a lot of little things that have added up to create a world in which athletes no longer play a game, but they work in a business.

Most days the news cycle is filled with contract talks and controversy instead of box scores and ball games.

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    We all know the reality is that the world of sports is a business and a very lucrative one at that. Everyone wants his piece of the pie, and who can blame him?

    Sportswriters like me aren’t really that different. We sensationalize events, stories and whatever else to sell newspapers, advertisements and collect a paycheck just like everyone else.

    So I’m not trying to preach to athletes, owners, my colleagues, the fans, or anyone else when I write this column. I’m just trying to remind everyone why we love these games so much.

    As adults it is easy to remember what numbers like 61, 100 and 46 meant to us as we were growing up, but it may not be as easy for kids today. With our collective attention focused on scandal, we might have forgotten to teach them about Mantle and Maris in 1961, Wilt’s 100 and the Bears’ 46 defense.

    Before I was 9, I knew the greatness of names like Ernie Banks, Michael Jordan and Dick Butkus because I was taught to understand and respect sport for what it used to be: a game, a competition and a source of pride.

    Too many times I turn on the TV or open the newspaper to a story that distracts from what I learned years ago.

    I think younger fans need to be given the chance to enjoy the wonder of sport that I found as a kid for at least a little while, don’t you?

    That’s why we need to teach them about sportsmanship, loyalty, pride and all of the glory that comes with it on the field.

    We need to teach them about Babe Ruth, and how his 1921 season changed baseball forever.

    They should listen on in amazement when you tell them the 59 home runs the Babe hit that year surpassed the totals of eight other teams. They should understand that he set records that year for runs, extra-base hits and total bases that still stand today, despite the best efforts of those who made the Steroid Era what it was.

    We need to teach them about Wilt Chamberlain, Magic and Kareem, Larry Legend and the Celtics Dynasty.

    They need to learn what Air Jordan meant before it was a brand name.

    And they need to know why every kid in my generation grew up wanting to be “like Mike.” It was because he wanted to win more than anyone else and not because he made more money than everyone else.

    We should talk about Johnny U, Montana and Rice and the Steel Curtain.

    Kids need to understand that the warriors who took the field on Sundays in years past would do so with a broken back if it meant their team would gain one more yard.

    We need to teach them that pride comes from perspiration and not compensation.

    They need to know there is value in sacrifice and honor, and there is more to gain from the world than fame and fortune.

    So much of the world gets lost under controversy that we tend to forget why we love something in the first place.

    So if the news of the last year has distracted you from the true greatness of sport and what it can teach all of us, I’m just trying to say that you shouldn’t let it.

    All you need to do to remember is toss the pigskin around for an afternoon, shoot jumpers in the driveway or have a game of catch.

    Dave Fultz is a junior in Communications. He can be reached at [email protected].