06 July 2007

Don't Give Up

Say what you will about sports. You can call it the opposite of intellectualism. Some think it is a breeding ground for bullies. Others simply believe that sports don't really contribute to the fabric of our society. These people are simply wrong. They aren't into great orations.

Anybody who has ever heard John Rocker interviewed would find it hard to believe that sports figures can give great speeches. However, the same people definitely get teary-eyed when they think of the power of Lou Gehrig's Luckiest Man Alive speech. This is one of many famous sports speeches.

Next week is the ESPY awards. This is an event that typically adds little to an already overcrowded sports marketplace. In 1993, the first year for the awards, the event did, however, produce one of the greatest speeches of all time.

The first Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian award was given to Jimmy Valvano, a former North Carolina State basketball coach. Valvano had founded the V Foundation, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for cancer.

The reason that curing cancer interested Valvano was because he would die of the disease less than two months after he accepted the award. His speech (in the YouTube link above), as well as his Foundation, are two great things that have remained after Valvano had gone.

Watch the video with plenty of kleenex around, and remember that sports mean different things to different people. Even after participants have gone, the memories of how they have touched the lives of others will supersede any of the negative stereotypes associated with sports. Say what you want about sports. Sometimes it's more than just a game.

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