October 26, 2012

Sports: The Perfect Dichotomy

By - Keith Smith

This week, I was reminded of both the insignificance of sports, and of their importance; the perfect dichotomy.

That sounds strange, but bear with me.

When a dear friend of my family lost their 20-year-old child to a sudden and unforeseen health issue, I saw how truly insignificant sports really are.

Photo by: Thorsten Henn
I suddenly didn't care that the World Series was starting this week, that one of my favorite college football teams is having perhaps its worst season ever, or who on my fantasy team was off and how I would replace them.

My perspective changed about a great many things.

Here was this beautiful young lady, a mentor to so many in our church (including my own daughter), who was suddenly snatched away. I saw the impact she had made in her 20 short years, through her devout Christianity and numerous mission trips, both at home and abroad.

I witnessed an outpouring of love to her family and friends, literally, from youth groups all around the country. I saw adults that were almost as devastated as if this had happened to their own child, because of how much they loved her.

I knew that myself, as well as the sports that I have put so much importance on the past several years of my life, were insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

This sweet soul had impacted far more lives in her 20 years than I have in my 51-plus.

Then I remembered some other things about her life.

How I used to umpire her softball games when she was in middle school, and referee her basketball games when she was in high school. I remembered the numerous pictures of her smiling face as she enjoyed Auburn University football games, where she had been a pharmacy student. And I remembered that her dad is one of the premier Directors of Golf Course Operations at one of the finest courses in the Southeast.

I realized that, while the outcomes of athletic events really are insignificant, the sports themselves aren't.

They afforded me the opportunity to see this young lady's involvement outside of church, participating with her friends in games that she loved, and getting to know her on a totally different level than just as the daughter of my Sunday School teacher.

It gave her a source of joy to attend games with her friends and classmates, and build relationships and memories for them. And for many years, it gave her family a means of support, a roof over their head and food to eat, and a means for her to attend the university that she had loved so dearly.

No, who wins the games we play and watch matters not when we look at the entire scope of life. Whether our team wins a national championship (or two, or three), or goes 3-9 could absolutely not matter any less.

Sports provides us with distractions from the difficulties and stresses of everyday life. They give our brains, and sometimes, our hearts, a rest from strife, and grief, and sorrow. And in some way, that makes sports important.

Just not as important as we sometimes think.


  1. Sorry to hear this. Prayers to everyone.

  2. This saddened me, but you bring up a very good point. Sports have a way of bringing us together and lifting us up in a time of need. I instantly thought of the 2001 World Series and how it brought New York (and the entire country for that matter) together following 9/11. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  3. I can relate. Had a similar situation happen with my neighbors a few years back. Prayers to you and the family.

  4. Sounds like she was a lovely young lady. What happened to her?

  5. Thanks, all. It's been a difficult week, and today's funeral was tough but a celebration of a wonderful life.

  6. She had a pulmonary embolism. No history of health problems, no trauma to heart body, just one of those out-of-the-blue tragedies that happen sometimes. Very sad.

    She was an honor student in high school, Dean's list every semester of college, 3 foreign mission trips, countless domestic ones. Truly one of the good ones gone way too soon.

  7. Gut-wrenching when such a promising young life is lost. Prayers to the family in their time of need.