Sports are more than just fun and games

By Zachary West

Buchtelite Opinion Writer

Sports are just games, right? It’s just a bunch of overly large guys playing a silly game and getting paid entirely too much money for three hours of work, correct? While this seems to be true on the surface, I would argue sports are so much more.

Sports are an important part of what shapes American society. Social barriers have been broken, international political battles have been put to rest and entire cities have rallied around a single team in time of disaster to bring their city
back to life.

Jesse Owens was a key player in the desegregation of sports and was an international symbol of hope for minorities. During the reign of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany, Owens took over the track and field events in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. He showed that black athletes could not only compete but excel in sports by winning four gold medals.

At the summer games in Mexico City 32 years later, Tommie Smith and John Carlos took a stand for civil liberties. During their medal ceremony Carlos and Smith wore black gloves and raised their fists as a salute to human rights.

Using the stage of an international sporting event, they took a stand on a social issue that goes outside the world of sports.

In 2005, the city of New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.  After a year of playing “home games” in Baton Rouge, the New Orleans Saints came home to play in the repaired Superdome.

After a year of tragedy and fallout from the hurricane, the people of New Orleans came together for one night celebrating a Saints victory, which symbolized the rebirth of the city.

When thinking of important moments in American history, I can’t help but think about what has been done in the world of sports to shape our society as a stage for ideals or as an outlet to bring a community together.