Why not watch when you can't play the game?

    I’ve followed sports for as long as I can remember. I can just about watch any kind of sporting event — there have even been times when I have caught myself watching the World’s Strongest Man competitions on ESPN2.

    When people ask me, “”What is your favorite spectator sport?”” (come to think of it, I haven’t ever been asked that in person, but I’ve seen the question on paper before), I have to think for a while before answering and sort through the list of sporting events I’ve witnessed, which would definitely be longer than any of my Christmas wish lists.

    However, I was recently slapped in the face with a variation to the question. In a junior college class I took over the summer, a teacher asked the class why we would be spectators instead of going out and being players. She made an interesting point, but I refused to agree with her message that watching sporting events is a waste of time.

    There is no doubt that I would rather be out on the Staples Center floor hitting the clutch 20-footer instead of watching Kobe Bryant do it from the last row of the arena. I would even rather be the one sinking the downhill putt to win a tournament for the Triton golf team instead of being a spectator and writing about the athlete who actually did it.

    I even sit in the outfield bleachers, heckling the fielder who bobbles a line drive that is hit to him. I laugh at him and yell, “”You suck! I could play your position better than you do!”” while trying not to spill my Coke or drop my hot dog. After hearing me say that, my summer school teacher would probably look at me and ask me why I don’t go out onto the field and try to play better instead of mocking bad outfielders like Barry Bonds.

    Teddy Roosevelt might have agreed with her. He once said, “”The credit belongs to the man in the arena whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and who comes up short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause.””

    I’ve shed blood and sweat on the field before, and it was there that I learned I belong in the stands instead of in the game. I’ve spent a lot of time playing many different sports, and, Mr. Roosevelt, it usually takes talent as well as enthusiasm and devotion to be a player.

    I realize that the athletes whom I watch have worked hard to reach the stage where they are, but I know that it began with raw talent. Anyone can play sports, but becoming the athlete that people go to watch takes more than just effort.

    Although I sit in the stands and watch the game being played instead of running out to my position on the field, I’m always going to be a critical sports fan. Even the guys in the game look around and continually give their take about what sports journalists do.

    So I will continue to be a spectator instead of a player, and I’ll play the game of sports journalism and keep up my enthusiasm in intramural sports.

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