The Power of Sports

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Mar. 17, 2019. I’ll never forget that date. Not because of what happened, but what followed on this campus that Sunday. In the mid-afternoon at the Barclays Center, our beloved Billikens won the A-10 Men’s Basketball Championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. While much rejoicing took place in the moment of victory, true triumph has continued in the  days, weeks and months since and will continue in the years to come.

   I am a firm believer in the power of sports. The ability to build community, make lasting memories and bring strangers together for a common goal is unmatched.  Students, children, adults, billionaires, average Joes, Democrats, Republicans and everyone in between have the unique ability to connect through sports. Political, religious, ethical and racial divisions are thrown out the window when someone different from you is “on your team,” so to speak. Passion, pride and pure joy arise in the heat of competition. This is evident all the way from youth sports to the professional level. Sports bring people together because of their ability to make memories and forge new relationships. If one has ever sat in the bleachers at a Cardinals game or been in the student section for SLU Men’s Basketball, he or she knows the memorable experience they have had high-fiving a stranger next to them after a big play. What a beautiful action!

   Part of the power of sports is the reward it gives to athletes or, rather, teammates. Ask any student-athlete on campus, and I’ll bet they have deep bonds with their teammates and likely would not trade their teammates for the world. They spend countless hours preparing for battle while earning an education along the way, both academically and in life experience. They are proud to have “Saint Louis” across their chests and will give it their all each night; sometimes, they battle with only a handful of spectators, normally parents and loved ones. This is where we, SLU students, come in. As peers, we have a responsibility to encourage and cheer on our athletic teams each game!

   Why should you cheer on athletic teams? They are the ones on scholarship, right? Irrespective of our financial situation, Billikens support Billikens. Our support of SLU athletics is the lifeblood of this university, and it is what creates something special throughout Midtown. If one can remember the pure excitement and joy around campus in the days following the A-10 Basketball championship, he or she knows that special euphoria that takes place following a big win. All students, alumni and faculty were proud of their university and shared it through community-building activities, like the watch party in the CGC. Despite losing in the first round, those who attended that watch party will never forget it. With their friends and peers, they enjoyed the event and were proud to be Billikens. I will never forget seeing close to 2,000 students all together in one place for one common goal: to cheer on our Billikens. That’s the power of sports: bringing together those who would otherwise never spend time together and providing opportunities to experience the rollercoaster of human emotion. 

   I encourage all students to get out and attend Billiken sporting events as our fall season winds down and winter approaches. It is a great way to make new friends, forge bonds with existing friends and support Billiken athletes who put in countless hours to represent our university well. Sports benefit both the fan and the athlete. Plus, at SLU, all athletic games are free to students. Show up, be loud, be proud, make memories and see the special bonds that form. Who knows when the next catalyst like Mar. 17, 2019 could be?