I don’t understand people who don’t love sports.

I think most of those people never played sports, because if they played then they would know. They would know how much hard work and dedication a sport takes. They would know that blood, sweat, and tears isn’t just a saying. They would know about the early mornings, the late nights, the hours we stay after practice to attempt to perfect a skill. We sprint, we lift, we jump. We have sore muscles trying to get an edge. We get huge bruises when we make a mistake. We tear muscles, snap tendons, we break bones for the love of the game.

People who don’t play sports always say it’s just a game. It’s true. To them, it’s just a game. But to us, it’s everything. We spend so much of our time trying to be the best at our sport. All of the time, the practice, the pain, the failures, the successes, the wins, the losses, all of the heart that we put into the game translates into love. We put all of ourselves into a sport and we work to make it give as much back to us as we put into it.

When I see olympians competing, I am always on the verge of tears. My competitive nature has me cheering the hardest for Team USA, but I feel for every athlete. To earn a spot for your home country is an honor, and they want to win for their country or at least not fuck up too badly. While I watch sports, I feel the same anxiety I used to feel before stepping out onto the court. I feel the same pain in my heart when an athlete looses by a hair or gets hurt or fails. My heart aches for those athletes because I can’t imagine how much of themselves they have given to their sport. I have only felt a pale shadow of the pain, guilt, and frustration that a top athlete must feel when they don’t get the gold.

But I also feel the successes. I just cried when Simone Biles and Aly Raisman won gold and silver in gymnastics. I share their pride, their happiness, their fulfillment, their relief. Simone is the best gymnast in the entire world. Can you imagine that feeling? I don’t know if words would even be able to describe it.

It bothers me when people say they don’t like sports. All those people see is the outer shell of balls and beams and pools and rules they can’t understand and plays they think are stupid. They don’t understand the emotion behind it. They don’t see that when a person plays a sport for real, it becomes a part of them. It threads it’s way into who you are. Whether your an olympian like Simone or a has-been high school athlete like me, you can understand exactly what sports mean. Everything. And even when we no longer play, we have respect for those who do and we can share in their losses and their victories.


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