By Ben Ramirez
“Man, this is baseball, you gotta stop thinking! Just have fun,” Mike Vitar said as his character Benny “the Jet” Rodriguez in the 1993 classic “The Sandlot.”
It is a simple statement, but it could not be more true. Baseball, and all sports really, are a children’s game and are meant to be played for fun. However, that does not stop millions of people across the world from trying to compete professionally. Although I do not play sports anymore, they have continued to be the center of my universe.
Sports, and baseball in particular, have played a pivotal role in my life since I was four years old.
Starting from Tee Ball and working my way up through divisions at Northridge City Little League, I was just a little kid obsessed with the idea of playing Major League Baseball (MLB). As I got older I also played basketball, but I never gravitated toward it like I did baseball. Not only has baseball given me some of my best friends, but it also instilled in me a passion that is unmatched by anything else.
It is true that in order to pursue something in life, you have to love doing it, and while I loved the game of baseball with all my heart, I did not want to play anymore. This was the turning point in my relationship with sports. I went from wanting to play, to wanting to talk about sports.
Now being able to write about sports, I have taken it upon myself to share my love with others, writing multiple articles about why sports are important and how they impact people, such as how the Chicago Cubs have made people feel.
On November 2, 2016, the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians were set to face off in the decisive, winner-take-all, seventh game of the World Series. In what I would consider to be the greatest game I have ever seen, the Cubs beat the Indians 8-7 in the 10th inning, becoming World Series champs for the first time in 107 years.
I am not one for crying, but after third baseman, Kris Bryant, threw across the diamond to Anthony Rizzo at first base for the final out and the team began to converge in celebration on the pitching mound, I broke into tears. This is just one example what sports has the capability of doing to people.
The Cubs’ win capped off an incredible calendar year of sports which saw the Golden State Warriors blow a 3-1 series lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the young superstar, Jose Fernandez, die in a boat accident, leaving the baseball world frozen in shock, and the retirement of the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Vin Scully.
These events, and thousands of others, make sports fans groan and cry and yell and smile. There is no straight-forward answer to to the question ‘why are sports important.’ Sports are able to connect generations of all colors and ethnicities and evoke emotions, but most importantly, they keep people young at heart. After all, sports are made for children to have fun.
Sports also allow for people to pursue their dreams, whether that be to play or to talk about them. For me, I want to join some of my idols, Vin Scully, Brent Musburger, and Chris Berman as one of the greatest sportscasters of all time, and get paid to talk about sports all the while. It does not take having the ability to throw hard, run fast, or shoot well for sports to affect someone, and that is what I love. Sports are important because they allow for genuine happiness and excitement; even in the face of despair.