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More Than Just a Game

The Everlasting Impact the Sports Have on the World

Olivia Berler, Staff Writer

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For the players, the coaches, and the spectators, the energy that surrounds a ginormous athletic stadium during a professional game or competition is unlike any other. Whether due to a tragedy, a natural disaster, helping people in need, or just the pure enjoyment of society, sports have unified and impacted the world in countless ways.

The annual Olympic Games have surely proven the ability of sports to unite the world despite cultural and ethnic differences. People from all over the world are glued to their TVs, watching athletes from other countries with names that they can’t even pronounce. No matter who it is or where they are from, we sit in awe, marvelling at their natural athletic ability, the things they accomplish, and just the aura of the competition in general.

Specifically, the opening ceremonies of the games are the epitome of the idea of international unity. Flags flying, and torches glowing, this event symbolizes not only the patriotism people have in their own countries, but also the coexistence of nearly every region of the world.

In 2016, the International Olympic Committee launched a global promotional campaign called, “Together We Can Change the World.” The campaign’s sole purpose was to utilize sport as a means of bettering the world. In an article from the Guardian, Thomas Bach, the President of the International Olympic Committee states, “Sport always builds bridges, it never erects walls. In a world shaken by crises, the message that our shared humanity is greater than the forces that divide us, is more relevant than ever before.”

The International Olympic Committee teamed up with olympic broadcasting partners in order to use the campaign to build up the anticipation leading to the 2016 Summer Games in Rio. Along with this, the platform for the campaign, Olympic.org/Peace, displays an extensive list of inspiring stories that depict exactly how the Olympics have had such a significant impact on the world. On June 23, 2016, which was the opening day of the Summer Olympics, the committee even activated the campaign over social media through spreading awareness with #OlympicPeace.

Along similar lines, community service through athletics has also had a vast impact on the world. Maddie Brennan, a senior and varsity soccer player at Barnstable, has gone to Dominica with some of her teammates and the United Kidz Soccer Development Organization (UKSD). The main purposes of these trips are to bring supplies, sanitary items, sports equipment, take part in a service project, and finally, to hold free public soccer clinics. In Dominica, soccer is an extremely popular sport. However, due to the poverty there, they do not have quality balls, equipment, or even cleats to play with.

“To enrich their experience playing soccer we brought tons of new and used soccer balls, cleats, shin guards, socks, and uniforms. The smiles that these things put on their faces is one I’ll never forget,” Brennan said.

This trip to Dominica brought together two completely different groups of people. Brennan reflected on one of her favorite memories in Dominica when a group she was with started a little soccer game in the park. Soon enough, natives of the island, people who they had never even met before, joined in. “The game created an atmosphere where nothing mattered, not your skin color, age, language, or ability.” This experience changed Brennan’s life and exemplifies, once again, how sports can bring people together, differences aside, and positively impact lives.

Unfortunately, there will not be a Dominica trip this year due to the tragic destruction of Hurricane Maria. However, even with the severe obstacle of a natural disaster, the people involved with UKSD have still managed to send supplies their way.

On another note, tragedy can also manage to bring people together through sport. Patriot’s Day has always been a special day for Bostonians. The Red Sox play an early game, and the world-renowned Boston Marathon takes place. However, on this day in 2013, it would never be the same. The first of two bombs went off at the finish line, and in just seconds, Marathon Monday went from a day of celebration and accomplishment to a day of terror, pain and loss.

As the news came out that this was a terrorist attack, Boston knew that the best way to get back at the bombers would be to show resilience and strength in the face of the unthinkable. Boston Strong became the motto of our city. According to the Boston Globe, the phrase “presents a united front in the face of threat.”

Following the attacks, communities came together to honor those who were lost, memorials were created out of running sneakers, and overall, people were still just trying to grasp the reality of the situation. The first Red Sox Game after the bombings was on April 20 and was a platform of the unity, resilience, and support that had found a way to stem from the tragedy in Boston. It opened up with a ceremony honoring those who were lost the Monday before, along with David Ortiz delivering a speech that would stay with Bostonians, and the world, forever. His passion epitomized the strength that now defines Boston.

There were even two movies, Patriot’s Day (2016), and Stronger(2017), that were released with the sole purpose of emphasizing the resilience, hard work, and unity that were displayed by so many amazing people following the events of the 2013 Boston Marathon.

Every powerful effect of April 15, 2013, prove how large of an impact sports can have on even just one city. They can unify, distract, bring hope, and strengthen.

All of this being said, in a world like we live in today, where nation-changing, world-changing, and life-changing events are not at all uncommon, hope and faith in our own countries are what create international unity. Therefore, whether you love sports or despise them, they are a symbol of the hope that ties our world together.

 

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