Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I Can Be Me

I apologize for the recent lapse in posting, I really do. Citing the old excuses about how much work Davidson students have really gets old after a while when you realize that everyone has a ton of work to do, and I'm pretty darn lucky that a lot of my work revolves around sports. A lot of people in this world have to suffer through endless meetings about efficiency and productivity while trying to juggle the text messages about broken pipes, kids needing rides from day care, and food that needs to be acquired for the night's dinner.

As of right now, all that I have to worry about is sports. That is, excepting the fact that I have four classes, but even one of them is about sports and the other one is a speech class, so everything is looking good.

In posts that precede and will follow this entry, you will see all kinds of analysis about Davidson basketball and the wider range of SoCon and maybe ACC hoops. You will get your insider look at some of my thoughts on the Davidson Athletic program and be kept up-to-date during games in the future. For a brief second, however, I would like for you to take a quick step back and ponder the role that sports have in your life.

I think that most people that read this blog would share my sympathies that sometimes we feel dirty about our love for sports. We devote a lot of time and energy to following games and reading box scores, and every once in a while, something happens that makes us feel guilty. We experience a significant emotional event outside of the sports realm, and we are left feeling guilty. Sports feel superficial and fake entertainment. We usually rationalize our way out of these thoughts and return to our previous states, but sometimes the thoughts linger nonetheless.

As you might have guessed, I recently experienced a situation that made me take a hard look at all of the time that I devote to sports writing. A Davidson tennis player, Jay Chitty, died in a plane crash at the end of last December. Most Davidson students did not know Jay and felt sad in the same way that you feel sad when a friend tells you that their grandparent died. You feel bad for the friend, but don't really feel bad that the person died.

I found that Jay's passing left a lot of questions in my mind. He was a college student, who like every other college student, had his vices and his virtues. Jay had a great heart and he always challenged everyone to look outside of the little box that they had created around themselves. But Jay also lost sight of things sometimes. He sometimes spent just too much time watching TV and not doing homework. Above all else, he was radically committed to sports and the UNC Tar Heels.

During his memorial service, his roommate, Wilson McCrory, said that you can't talk about Jay Chitty without talking about sports. As soon as he said that, I wondered whether that was a good thing. I wondered if a love for sports was a legitimate summation of someone's relationship with someone else. Ultimately, I wondered if people would have thought the same thing about myself.

After wrestling with these questions for a long time, I realized that I would never be able to prove a right or wrong answer to myself. These sorts of things don't have final answers. I did, however, contemplate a particular love for sports. I realized that you can outwardly spend a lot of time in and around sports and have it be a bad thing. It can blur your interactions with your friends and family; it can cause you to become a talking head that is a PTI-wannabe; it can boil everything down to a box score; it is a force, like so many others, that can make us so cynical that we don't enjoy anything anymore.

I realized that I don't have to be that way. I can be myself and still write a blog. This doesn't have to be Deadspin or Tony Kornheiser or (fill-in-the-blank). Jay Chitty really loved sports. More than that, he really loved sharing sports with the people around him. I hope that one day, I might be remembered as someone who tried to approximate that.

To read Wilson's article in this week's Davidsonian, navigate to the new Davidsonian website.

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