Recently, the sporting world recognized the one-year anniversary of the passing of longtime sports anchor Stuart Scott. In one of the most inspiring sports stories ever, Scott gave an emotional speech about his battle with cancer when he was given an award at the 2014 ESPY’s. The world of sports is littered with inspiring off the field stories such as Scott’s, which begs the question, in on-the-field matters, why does the media (as well as the public) tend to focus on the negative?
For example, when NFL quarterback Cam Newton scores a touchdown, he celebrates by dancing in the end zone, a move that some view as arrogant and disrespectful. However, he also takes the time to give the football to a young fan in the stands every time he scores. While there have been volumes written on Newton’s dancing antics and the controversy surrounding them, very few have taken the time to examine the impact he has on the young recipients of his gifts.
In another such story, San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle, an LDS, U of U alum, recently stayed on the field at halftime in order to watch his daughter perform in lieu of going to the locker room. Weddle was fined $10,000 by the Chargers organization afterwards for “conduct detrimental to the team.” A few blogs written by LDS writers recognized Weddle for his family values amid the never-ending scandals of NFL players with questionable morality, at best. The result? A comments section laced with people suggesting that if Weddle were really righteous he would forego playing football on Sundays.
This problem persists here at Utah Valley University as well. A prime example is the recent announcement that BYU and UVU would face off in both men’s and women’s basketball in what was dubbed the “University Parkway Series.” The start of what should be a fun, exciting rivalry was viewed by many as a negative story. Instead of looking to it as an opportunity to gain experience from a higher level of competition, UVU was looked down upon simply as the lamb going to the slaughter. The Wolverines did lose those games, but should the community’s support for their teams falter purely based on wins and losses? Not just seeing the arrival of their teams enhances a fan’s experience, but from watching them build up to something special.
My point is this. Perhaps instead of looking for what’s wrong with the world of sports, we should look for the positive. When examining the behavior of athletes both on and off the field, we should look for and appreciate the moments of decency, charity and inspiration a little bit more.
I grew up on a farm in Burley, Idaho, but I’ve always had an intense love of sports. I’m studying journalism in an attempt to turn my love into a career. I’m a huge Utah Jazz, Tennessee Titans, and San Jose Sharks fan. If it’s a sport, I’ll watch it.