Nash: What do sports mean to us as a society?

A world without sports doesn’t feel right


Collegian file photo

By Ethan Nash, Collegian Staff

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately – even though my dad jokes that every time I do I weaken the nation.

That being said, there hasn’t been much else to do as pretty much every sport has been put on hold for the moment and for the foreseeable future due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Playing video games, watching Love is Blind and old sports highlights, and reading books can only get one so far.

And every time I think, I come to the same question: Are sports really that important to us as a society?

The correct answer is yes.

Sports grant us an escape.

They give us a chance to put everything else aside for just a brief moment and watch the greatest athletes in the world compete at the highest level and under the brightest lights for three whole hours.

They give us a chance to choose an allegiance to a city or a team and then care so much about that city or team that we feel an indescribable amount of joy when they win and utter despair when they lose.

They give sports journalists a job for crying out loud. Some of my co-workers have seen their college careers at the Collegian end because there aren’t any sports left to cover.

When sports were still happening, I would wake up every morning and immediately check my phone to see what games were being played that day. Are the Celtics, Bruins, Red Sox or Patriots playing that day? How many goals is Connor McDavid going to score tonight? Will LeBron finally put up a 27, seven and seven stat line? What team is Tre Mitchell going to drop 30 and 15 against?

Instead, I now find myself on Twitter reading about people – including myself – who don’t know what to do without sports in their lives.

As a professor told me during my freshman year, sport recapitulates society.

It is not a mirror of society. Rather, it gives new form or expression to our social relations and narratives.

I miss the pointless arguments with friends over LeBron or Kobe or Jordan.

I miss screaming at the television when they don’t shoot the puck.

I miss having no idea why they didn’t swing at a 100 MPH pitch right down the middle.

I miss Tom Brady.

Without sports, we feel lost as a society. We look up to these athletes every day on television and on social media. When we lose either of those, there becomes a massive void that can’t be filled.

Where are we supposed to go to get that same sort of thrill that really nothing else can quite live up to? What else are we supposed to talk about?

Similar to recapitulating society, sports are also a microcosm of society.

Plain and simple, sports are a group of people working as a team to achieve a common goal. That is, quite literally, the definition of the word ‘society.’

And because sports are a microcosm of society, we can learn from the current situation.

People who work at sport venues don’t have jobs when games aren’t being played. Thankfully, we’ve seen some athletes and owners donate money so this isn’t a problem.

So, the next time our society begins to crumble – and you can certainly count on there being a next time – I think we can use what we’ve learned and are still learning from today’s sports crisis.

But then again, you know what happens every time I think.

Ethan Nash can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @ethan_nash15.