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Why Sports Matter

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In the later half of April, I wrote about The Longest Week. As a Bostonian, I felt the need to write about the Boston Marathon bombings, even if it was just for my own piece of mind. It's the kind of event that I simply couldn't ignore and though it's not related to personal finance, I hoped you'd understand. At least one awesome commenter, Patty got it, and wrote a few paragraphs that 99.99% of bloggers dream to receive and never do. I hope you'll understand with today's post as well.

If you aren't from Boston, I don't know how to explain the Boston bombings. I'd imagine it's probably how you felt about the United States after 9/11 (assuming you are a US reader)... except that it's one step more local... closer to "home." I can't remember Americans having more pride in their country after 9/11. It was the same way in Boston throughout New England.

If there's one thing that Bostonians rally around it's the Red Sox. For 86 years, the team failed its goal to win the World Series, despite coming agonizingly close many times. My father was born 25 years after they last won in 1918 and died 15 years before they'd win again - a (short) lifetime of never seeing the Red Sox win a World Series. Maybe it's because misery loves company, but everyone loves the team. I see grandmothers and their granddaughters wearing Red Sox shirts and hats... even when they aren't competitive (which, except for last year has been rare). Whenever anyone asks me what they need to see in Boston, my first answer is always: "Fenway Park for a Red Sox game."

However, this year's Red Sox team couldn't possibly be the pick-up the region needed. Last year, they were one of the worst teams in baseball. For the first time in a decade they couldn't sell out the diminutive Fenway Park. Their stars all had problems. David Ortiz was too old and coming off an injury. Dustin Pedroia injured his hand at the beginning of the season. Their best pitcher, Buchholz, can never stay healthy a whole season. They lost two closers early on. Local scribes were writing, "It’s hard to get excited about these Red Sox" and "... But here’s the reality, people: The 2013 Red Sox might be really bad. Worse, they might be really boring."

A strange thing happened on the journey to last place. The Red Sox won... game after game. Everyone was waiting for the other shoe to drop. The Red Sox were getting clutch hits and walk off wins. As any sabermetrics (baseball stat nerd) will tell you, there's no such thing as being clutch and it all evens out over time. Except it never evened out for the Red Sox this year.

Not only did they win, but they did it with heart. Jonny Gomes looked like an idiot wearing a battle helmet, until you read the story of soldier to gave it to him, calling him the most patriotic player he's met.

After the bombings the team took it upon themselves to try to give people a little break from the everyday realities. There are marathon runners who lost half their leg. However, you can see why sports matters in their face, when they walk onto the grass at Fenway Park or throw out the first pitch. I can't count how many news stories I saw about players visiting the bombing victims at the hospital.

This is why sports matters.

We're told that nice guys finish last. We're told that nothing is perfect. We're told that fairy tales don't come true. Sometimes "they" are wrong.

I suppose I should write about money related, so here goes. The other day, I had a David Ortiz game jersey with the 2013 World Series in my hands. It was $115. I don't think I had ever wanted a piece of clothing more. (Of course I already own this Serenity T-Shirt.) That's a lot of money for a shirt, and whenever I spend that much money, I like to think about it a bit. Maybe I'll think about it long enough for Santa to bring it.

Posted on November 4, 2013.

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2 Responses to “Why Sports Matter”

  1. Kostas says:

    Nothing more impressive than seeing a country, or even an area, come together after a tragedy. It’s sad that we can’t come together prior to tragedies though. Nice piece, gives people not from Boston an insight into the importance of a sports giant. Good call on the shirt that would have been a major investment. Don’t forget to let Santa know you want it.

  2. I took my son to the Rolling Rally on Saturday and was thinking about how he will never know what it’s like to root for a perpetual underdog. Heck, I’m almost forgetting what it was like to root for the underdog, even though I remember telling some Bill Buckner jokes in elementary school.

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