Grantland.com's Brian Phillips touches on some powerful topics in his December 19, 2013 article "The Year of Un-Innocence" . Phillips writes of our romantic view of sports - games played safely, fairly and with sportsmanship. He notes that in 2013, time after time, this notion was dashed with performance enhancing drug scandal (baseball) or news of long-term health concerns (football and concussions) and death (building soccer world cup venues in Qatar). Yet, despite these setbacks, Phillips (and us) continued to tune in and cheer.
Sports are lauded throughout the world as a catalyst for bringing us together; for developing athletes of high character who serve as role models for our communities, schools and even nations. For those of us who grew up in sports, we know numerous examples of the good in sports. However, the nature of news is that negative gets the headlines and, in 2013, the most tweets. It is up to us - coaches, athletes and parents - to participate in and promote the good of sports in day-to-day practices and contests. Will the bad things of our world invade sports? Of course. But it must be our calling to study the issues, argue gracefully and work for improvement of these games that are so important to our cultures.
December began with a vibrant example of sport and its ability to promote change with the passing of South African leader Nelson Mandela. Sports Illustrated's Jonathan Wilson reminded us of how Mandela knew of and used sport to bring his country together.