*cross-posted with Kanu Hawaii*
Many Americans grew up participating in sports and watching sporting events on television. America has a fascination with having our children grow up around sports. Perhaps it is our way of ensuring that our children have the opportunity to connect with those of the same age or perhaps it is in the parents’ hopes that the child will display unmatched skill and will one day become a professional athlete. Either way, sports have had the uncanny ability to unite and inspire people outside of the sports world.
Athletic competitions at the community level has been a key in getting neighbors and an entire neighborhood to become familiarized. Every weekend in Hawaii and across the world, parents can be found bringing their sons and daughters to a soccer field or some park for a game. As sure as the days pass on a calendar, sports leagues begin to mobilize. It begins in early January as local youth baseball and softball leagues begin posting signs for registration. Families flock to storefronts or wherever registration tables have been posted. The coaches begin to contact their players by late February and the practices begin. By March and April the games have already begun. The end of the season for a talented few may last until the ending of summer and the Little League World Series. For many, a fall season of football will follow.
Growing up participating in sports leagues provide relationships that would not be possible to someone else. Bonds are formed with team members and even members of the opposing teams. Many children grow up with their friends strictly located in their schools. However, sports leagues allow them to connect with others from different districts. Many of these bonds will last an entire lifetime. Many coaches will also form bonds with their players. Coaches that have taught a 10-year-old how to shoot a free throw may become a mentor for the same player while in college. The coach and player relationship is a sacred bond. Many grown men can still fondly recall their time with a coach more than thirty years prior.
A society that has grown up in an environment of competition and team work can accomplish great things. In the 1940’s Major League Baseball was integrated when Jackie Robinson was the African-American player in baseball’s top league. Sports have always found of way of uniting. The current generation of college graduates grew up at a time when youth sporting leagues were blossoming. This generation become the most connected generation because of the bonds formed across communities and district lines. It is no accident that this same generation now is on the precipice of seeing a true political transformation. This army of young people helped elect the first black President of the United States of America. This resulted in Sonia Sotomayor becoming the first woman of hispanic decent to sit on the Supreme Court of the United States. This powerful generation ushered in landmark healthcare reform and in Hawaii saw the legislature pass a civil-unions bill.
Athletic competition teaches fairness, team work, and hard work. It rewards talented, hard-working individuals and teams with championships. It sets a standards and tells all comers to shoot for the stars. At its purest form, sports is what a society should be. Society strives to be a hard-working, highly motivated, over achieving team of individuals that put each other ahead of themselves for the good of the team. Alone, they accomplish nothing. Together, there is no telling of what they can not accomplish. The next time you are watching children running around a soccer field kicking the ball in the wrong direction, think to yourself, they will likely grow to be our future leaders and will take what they have learned here and help all of us move forward.
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