Few things in our lives unite people the way sports can.
Ninety-five percent of the time, sports unite the communities and regions which make up specific fan bases. Whether it’s Racer Nation, Hockey Town or Cardinal Country, sports have a way of bringing together people of all different demographics, careers and life stages.
Every now and then, however, something even cooler happens.
Every few years, sports unite entire nations.
The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, begins today, and I for one am beyond excited.
I still remember the immense anticipation four years ago in Vancouver as the American men’s hockey team made its improbable run to the gold medal match against Canada.
I remember the uncontainable excitement when Zach Parise scored with 24 seconds to go to tie the game and send it to overtime.
I also remember the crushing defeat when Sidney Crosby wristed a shot into the top shelf of the Americans’ goal to end a game for the ages.
More than any of those things, however, I remember watching the games with family and friends.
There are rare occasions every few years when sports unite the entire country around a common cause. This, to me, is the most unique and compelling part of all of sports.
Usually we, as a country, are at odds with one another – whether we’re rooting for rival teams or arguing about taxes and health care reform.
Nothing in our society has the power to unite 300 million people the way sports can.
Even if you’ve never heard of some of the athletes who will be competing over the next two weeks (don’t worry, I don’t keep up with the professional curling circuit, either), they’ll have flags next to their names and that’s reason enough to cheer them on.
Rooting for the red, white and blue is about so much more than gold medals or blue ribbons.
It is about a nation coming together, despite all of its problems and differences, and cheering on our own.
Column by Jonathan Ferris, Staff writer