I first heard the line on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, the anthology series that ran for decades on the network. The announcer’s voice spread it across every room where a television set was playing the Saturday afternoon program: “The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, the human drama of athletic competition”, is how it went. It was a line that for me summed up sports as I knew it.
It’s hard to see sports in the same light today. Mostly it’s about the money, I suppose, and the millions of dollars paid to those who play a game. Generally, it’s more money than those of us who work daily could even remotely imagine having even if we bought lottery tickets by the box.
But the line came back to me the other day when I watched our grandson run in a track meet at the Abington Heights high school
The kids were out there, many for their first event in public and the weather was windy, the temperature low, the minutes till run time long.
The athletes on the field had practiced for this day for a while I’d guess — practiced, thought about it, prepared for it as best they could so they might do their best when the moment came. It was sports pure and simple.
They would get no money for their efforts, no car, no trip to Disneyland but they would get an important, extremely valuable insight into how life and the world works. Do your best, try your best, practice when you can and do it for the love of the game. Do it so you might experience the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat for in each there is a valuable lesson about life to be learned. See you next time.