Great athletes look like they were made for the sport they play. But no one is born with a ‘basketball’ or ‘football’ label. What is it that draws them to it? Why choose that sport in particular?
By Jacob Lindenberg
What if Michael Jordan never played basketball? What if Tom Brady never played football? What if Wayne Gretzky never played hockey? What makes any athlete play a certain sport? Why do some people enjoy football and others baseball? There are more professional sports played around the world today than we probably ever needed, which is definitely not a gripe from me. However with so many sports available, it makes you wonder why people “pick a sport.”
In all honesty, if you were to pick a sport out of a hat I would be willing to devote my entire attention to that sport. The library of games for my PS4 include Madden 16, FIFA 17, NHL 17, and NBA 2K16. Sports in general are a passion for me. I love studying player stats and reading debates about MVP races. My dream job is to be a writer or color commentator for a major sports media outlet like ESPN.
That being said, if I had to choose one sport that I would classify as my favorite sport to watch, I think I would have to choose football, which my dad introduced to me at the first chance possible. I’m labeled as a “lucky baby” by my father because less than a month after I was born, his beloved St. Louis Rams, (oh how he cursed them the day they moved back to Los Angeles), somewhat surprisingly captured their first and only Super Bowl trophy. I can’t tell you how many times I watched the VHS tape about their 1999 season, or in what kind of shape it is. This love for the Rams and the game of football only grew from there. Ever since preschool, where I went to picture day in a Torry Holt jersey, I have been a football nut. That tape was my babysitter. That tape is what I attribute my love of football to.
Football finally came along in 5th grade. Something that had only been a dream of mine previously, was about to become a reality. And to this day, it still eats up nine months of my year.
As for sports I partook in, there are some varying reasons why I chose to play the sports I played. The first sport I ever played was T-ball at the age of 5. My father is once again the culprit behind this too. Every summer that I can ever remember, my dad would watch the St. Louis Cardinals whenever he got a chance. By that, I mean I watched the St Louis Cardinals whenever my dad had a chance. Every game would always end with me going in yard and throwing tennis ball into the air and smashing a 400+ foot dinger just like my favorite player, Albert Pujols. When I wasn’t hitting home runs every at bat in T-ball, I quickly gave up. I then played soccer in 2nd and 3rd grade. My dad had played soccer when he was in high school, and had recently exposed me to it in the form of my first ever video game, FIFA 08 on the Wii. I didn’t enjoy all the running, so I gave that up too. Football finally came along in 5th grade. Something that had only been a dream of mine previously, was about to become a reality. And to this day, it still eats up nine months of my year.
In 7th grade, I got an invitation to play on a traveling basketball team just because I was considerably tall. It turned out I wasn’t that good. I can’t even guess how many “easy shots” I took clanked off the back iron. However, travel basketball was the cool thing to be doing in middle school, so I was determined to continue. This determination barely carried me through sophomore year, where its legs gave out underneath it. The game had lost all of its charm to me. Of course shooting hoops is fun, but playing for the freshman B team really isn’t. I was used to being a somewhat important piece in football and track that basketball just wasn’t fun anymore. I still enjoy to watch highlight dunks and buzzer-beater 3’s, but it is certainly not my favorite sport.
It appears that most people grow to love the sport that serves as young mind’s grand introduction to a whole world of athletics.
In my particular experience, my dad has been the most influential person in my life from a sports perspective. The sports I love most are the same sports I was introduced to first. But what about professional athletes? LeBron James could have played football. Russell Wilson was drafted as a baseball player. How come they chose basketball and football respectively? In LeBron’s case, he moved in with a youth coach at the age of 9, who introduced him to basketball. He showed signs of basketball greatness as a young kid, and was recruited to join the St. Vincent-St. Mary high school basketball team at the age of 15. We all know he shined there, but not many people know he was an all-state wide receiver there as well, who was even recruited by Division-1 programs. In Russell Wilson’s case, he was a three sport standout in high school, playing football, basketball, and baseball. Wilson’s first sport? Football, which was taught to him by his former football prospect of a father at the tender age of 4.
It appears that most people grow to love the sport that serves as young mind’s grand introduction to a whole world of athletics. Could LeBron be catching passes from the 738th Cleveland quarterback right now if the coach he moved in with would have taught him football? Would Russell Wilson be throwing spitballs in the MLB if his father would have been a baseball prospect? Of course this is all speculation, but I would be the first to tell you I think they would be.
Photo: Sports Programmes for Young Haitians by United Nations Photo on Flickr