It’s always nice to be reminded

Jul. 21, 2013 @ 06:10 AM

There’s no denying that the world of sports has been struggling as of late.

Major League Baseball is dealing with another drug scandal, the country’s top sprinter (Tyson Gay) failed a drug test and an NFL Pro-Bowler (Aaron Hernandez) is behind bars while on trial for murder.

Even college sports athletics are taking a hit despite the fact that nothing is in season.

Heisman trophy winner Johnny Manziel can’t sneak in the occasional beer without having the national media all over him and the usually-spotless reputation on UNC athletics is in serious question as the university investigates possible illegal benefits to basketball players.

Times like these are rough for sports fans like myself. I like to think that my passion, hobby and career is an escape from the everyday trials and tribulations of the “real world.” But unfortunately, the real world and the sports world overlap.

The athletes we watch on television and read about in the papers ever day are real people. They have real lives. They have real problems. And they make real mistakes.

But earlier this week I was reminded why sports will always be my passion and forever have my heart.

On what’s known as the slowest sports day of the year — the day after the MLB All-Star Game — the ESPY awards are held annually and take center stage.

The only score to displayed on the ESPN mobile app was a WNBA game, yes, it’s that slow of a day. So naturally, if I want my fill of sports for the day I have to find solace in an awards show where athletes turn in their pads and uniforms in favor of tuxedos, bow ties and despite being an indoor event, sunglasses.

Now the vast majority of the event is filled with corny sports jokes and unimpressive acceptance speeches, but sprinkled into the madness are a few beautiful moments — moments that move you to tears.

Longtime ESPN personality Robin Roberts was recognized with the Arthur Ashe Award for courage after her bout with cancer.

In her speech she mentioned the late Jim Valvano who gave one of the most famous speeches in ESPY’s history when he was given the same award.

Roberts thanked her family and spoke on the importance of giving to cancer research so others like herself can defeat such a terrible ordeal. I cried. If you didn’t cry or at the very least fight back a tear, you may need to check your compassion levels.

Later in the show, the young Jack Hoffman who is battling childhood cancer was awarded Moment of the Year for his tear-jerking appearance in the Nebraska football spring game.

However, the most moving story of the night highlighted the Hoyt family.

Dick Hoyt, 73, pushes his son Rick, who has cerebral palsy, in a wheelchair in marathons and triathlons across the country.

Dick has pushed his son in over Rick, now 51, in nearly 1,100 total events since 1977.

The story of a father’s unwavering love for a child and the joy created in a young man (now an adult) was beyond moving.

I recall reading about the Hoyts in column written by Rick Reilly for Sports Illustrated years ago, but to put faces and voices with these men made the story infinitely more powerful.

Again, another very emotional moment.

A night like that was needed for the sports world. We needed a night to remind us of the beauty that is found in competition. We needed to hear the stories that make popular sports figures incredible human beings.

So try not to get caught up in the negative aspects of the sports world, or any world for that matter. Understand that despite the dirt and disappointment that comes with nearly everything in life, the beauty is there ... and it’s undeniable. Enjoy it.

And don’t be afraid to cry, because like Jimmy V said 30 years ago ...

To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.