An Ode To Sports Joy

March Madness could be described as several weeks of intermittent joy.

by Paul West

As we finish celebrating the holiday on which we emphasize gratitude, and I reflect on things for which I’m thankful, one thing that comes to mind is sports. Sports, in all its forms, has much to offer: enrichment, friendship, confidence, emotional depth, exhilaration…and most of all, moments. As a competitor, spectator, or coach, much of what draws me to sports is the moments it provides; most of all, the ones characterized by one emotion: joy.

In life, if we’re lucky, we’ll experience many things which bring us joy. And–without losing perspective on life’s greatest and most lasting joys–few things can create such outbursts of pure, unadulterated joy as sports. The moment when teammates jump into each other’s arms, onto each other’s backs, or onto the playing field together; when a lone competitor falls to their knees, flops on their back, or kneels to kiss the playing surface; when strangers, huddled arm in arm or shoulder to shoulder, burst into celebration…the memories can last forever. Sports joy turns weathered adults into scrambling little kids, brings tears to the eyes of those who haven’t shed them in years, and transcends real and imaginary boundaries. It makes us blather and grin, jump up and down, wave our arms and look for someone to hug.

Here are a few personal moments of sports-related joy which will always bring me warm chills:

Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!

The Endy Chavez catch;

Wilmer’s walkoff;

David Tyree’s ‘helmet catch’;

Countless March Madness moments

These are the kinds of moments when our minds go blank and our hearts go pure. There are literally countless such moments–each unique to a team, town, or fan base–that, upon mention, create leaps back in time.

As we gather with loved ones (those of us fortunate enough to do so) to celebrate that for which we’re grateful, I’d like to offer a momentary tip of the cap to sports-borne joy. May the entire world, someday, follow suit.

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