Throughout our lives, we meet a great variety of people and we are often forced to work together with people to achieve a common goal. No matter how independent we may be in our studies, classes often require lab partners or group projects, so that you can learn how to work within a unit. Later on in the real world, work will often require collaborations and groups to get projects completed.
Sports brings people together in a similar way. Whether it be professional, casual or intramural, sports is a great unifying factor between people, who come out with the same motive to have fun and to ultimately win. This type of team-building is different than can be seen in other areas of life. In sports, the players on a team do not just cooperate because they have to — they work together because they want to. These athletes become connected on a higher level, to the point where teammates trust each other at an extreme level.
That is one of the reasons that many friends and fraternities come together to play intramural sports. Of course there is always the fun and enjoyment you take away from playing the sport, but it is also the ability to interact with colleagues and acquaintances on a higher level that separates these activities from the pack. When else would you depend on your friend to be there for you to make a put-back at the end of regulation to tie the game? How about depending on your friend to give you a perfect set, so that you can attack an opposing team with a spike? There are many in-game situations that you would never experience with friends that allow you to get to know them that much better and be able to see who they truly are.
Even when sports is supposed to be about winning and losing, it is not always the case when you go in with your friends. When you ask a couple people to go play basketball or tennis or squash, winning is not the overall objective. It is to have fun while playing with your friends and to just enjoy playing the sport. The same can be said for trying certain intramural teams that could be completely foreign to you. Just trying it out and taking that risk with a group of friends or colleagues makes the experience enjoyable and unforgettable. Even varsity athletes — like my friend, sprint football sophomore defensive back Sam Liu — have participated in many intramural sports, ranging from inner tube water polo to horseshoes just for the fun of it. Although he has not been very successful in terms of winning, intramural sports have provided many great memories for him and his friends.
This type of camaraderie and friendship may seem to only exist at an amateur level, but it can often be seen at the professional level as well. Many of the athletes we see on TV have deep bonds with their teammates that are irreplaceable. Sometimes general managers forget this detail and disrupt a team’s chemistry in the belief that the team will get better with new talent; however, the game is just as complex as the people who play it, as there is an inevitable trust that builds between players. In baseball, pitchers have different relationships with catchers that may boost their performance or hinder it. Basketball players need to understand where their teammates like to get the ball on offense. Football players need to know exactly when a throw will be up, and when the cut needs to be made. Although these skills can come through practice and execution, a good relationship and trust is essential for the team to perform at its best.
Sports is not just about the statistics and the great plays. Of course, there are stars and people who shine at all levels of play. In reality it is about the connections that are made between those who play the game. They play to have fun with their teammates, and build a level of trust and friendship beyond anything life can give them otherwise.