By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Editor
Sports are a funny kind of concept.
For young athletes growing up, sports present the first superheroes into their lives, helps keep them in shape, and allows them to dream of success beyond their wildest imaginations. For college athletes, sports give them a chance to pay for their education and presents them with job opportunities that would never present themselves if they weren’t playing the game they loved.
And for professional athletes, sports are a way of life. It puts food on the table, takes care of their family, and allows them an opportunity to achieve immortality that less than one percent of this world has a chance to earn.
But for the vast majority of the world, sports are an oasis away from the every day grind of the world, a place where dreams really do come true, and something that people can believe in that is bigger than just themselves.
Perhaps that is why whenever a NFL player commits a murder/suicide right outside of his team’s workout facility or when another player kills his best friend and teammate in a car accident while being drunk, the line between real life and sports becomes blurred and we no longer feel safe in our little bubble. I mean, if an NFL player who makes thousands and thousands of dollars a year can’t be happy in this world, how do you expect me to be happy? If a professional athlete can lose control of the wheel while being drunk, Lord knows what would happen to me with my comparative athleticism.
When moments like this occur and real life knocks down the door of the sports oasis, we as fans tend to claim that we gained perspective with these events. Because we learned about this player, who more than 99 percent of America didn’t know his name before the event, committing suicide after murdering his girlfriend, somehow this tragedy reached into our souls and flipped a switch on that made us really understand what was important in life.
As ridiculous as that concept sounds, maybe sports fans need that line blurred every once in a while to make sure reality doesn’t get completely blocked out by the sports light. Sports are meant to entertain us and give us stuff to talk about at bars, not become the source of our happiness or livelihood.
I have begun to realize that ESPN is more harmful than beneficial for people. Don’t get me wrong, I love some SportsCenter just as much as the next guy, but having 24/7 coverage of sports morphs the mind into believing that a real world doesn’t exist past the walls of Bristol, Conn.
In the past year, I have made a conscious effort to slow down my intake of ESPN and other sports channels. Instead of watching every football show I could get my hands on, I would flip around to various news networks or other cable stations, simply to allow myself to take in other things besides sports.
I grew up with sports being the fabric of my youth and have a tremendous job covering the concept, but I know that if Sundays in the fall no longer contained football or summers weren’t filled with the crack of a baseball hitting a bat, I am 100 percent sure life will continue.
I will just see a lot of 300-pound men applying for jobs with “offensive lineman” written under “former employment.”
If hearing of tragedies like Jovan Belcher or Josh Brent’s makes you see life through better lenses, no one should come down on that. But if you simply took a step back and pondered life for a few moments, you wouldn’t need these miserable stories to provide you with perspective.
As much as fans want to believe sports and real life will never mix together, we are always one accident away from breaking down the walls that separate the two sides.
Regardless of how you gain the perspective of what is most important in life, holding onto it and continuing to live by it will make life so much more enjoyable.
It’ll make those painful losses sting a little less as well.
Follow me on Twitter @TSBSportsBruu.