For the Love of the Game
Yesterday marked the conclusion of the 77th Masters Tournament, and if you are reading this column, you are no doubt aware that the Masters is one of the crown jewels of the American sporting year. CBS, which broadcasts the tournament annually, likes to remind viewers that the golf tournament is "a tradition unlike any other" and while this is partially true, in many ways the Masters is quite similar to a variety of sporting events around the world.
Certainly, the white caddie uniforms, the lack of advertising and the exclusive nature of Augusta National Golf Club it is arguably more difficult to procure a green jacket by becoming a member than by winning the tournament create an atmosphere that is truly unique. But the Open Championship, in its 142nd year, is also steeped in tradition. Its venues, such as the Old Course at St. Andrews, are often just as impressive as Augusta National.
So when you ask someone about the world's greatest golf tournament, the answer you get is largely dependent on which side of the Atlantic Ocean they grew up on. What I mean to demonstrate with this example is that what one considers a premier sporting event is largely dependent on where that person was raised.
I grew up in England, where the biggest sporting events included the FA Cup Final, the Derby (Epsom, not Kentucky) and the Ashes cricket series between England and Australia. I knew that the Super Bowl was a major sporting event, but I was not particularly interested in it. The game may draw a massive global audience, but ultimately, it is an American game and it will always mean more to Americans.
Once I moved here, however, I also came to appreciate events such as the NCAA men's basketball tournament, the Super Bowl and the World Series. I did not forget about the great English events I did stop following the Derby, but I was never that big of a horse racing fan anyway but started to realize that no matter where I grew up, if I was interested in sports, there would be a sporting event to call my own.
Canadians love the World Junior Hockey Championships. Small towns in the South love high school football. Williamsport, Pa., loves Little League baseball. And I am sure that thousands of countries and towns across the globe have sporting events of their own that they love just as much.
Undoubtedly, there are some sporting events that are meant to be shared with the world, like the World Cup and Olympics, but the majority of them are localized and mean much more to a small group of people than they do to everyone else.
Add local and national sporting events to the long list of reasons why I love sports, because they show the best that sports have to offer. The games may change, but in the end, every great sporting event has the same characteristics. All of them are dramatic, all of them feature the spirit of competition, and all of them serve to unite a group of people behind a common cause.
If you are from Louisville (or KDE), you cannot wait for the first Saturday in May and the Kentucky Derby. If you are from Omaha, Neb., you cannot wait for the last two weeks of June and the College World Series. And if you are from the Boston area, like me, you cannot wait for today, the third Monday in April. Today is Patriot's Day, a local holiday in Massachusetts and Maine, which means it is time for the Boston Marathon and the Boston Red Sox's annual 11:05 a.m. home game.
The two events make for a special day for the Boston sports fan, but if you haven't lived there, you probably don't understand what all the hubbub is about. I will spend today watching the Marathon and the Sox and there will come a day and a sporting event that might mean everything to you. And though I might not watch it, knowing that it means the same thing to you as Patriot's Day does to me will make me appreciate it all the same.