Kobe Bryant didn’t play for the Yankees. Kobe Bryant didn’t stake his claim as one of the greatest athletes of all time through baseball. And yes, this indeed is a Yankees-centric blog, but there are moments that come along from time to time that transcend a singular sport. There are times that invite all of us to reminisce, ponder and explore the way we think about things. The tragic passing of Kobe Bryant, along with eight other victims, is one of those times.
I often wonder why we care so much about sports. Why do we invest time, money and energy into an industry that doesn’t even know our names? What are the reasons for hitching our wagons to athletes that we will never truly know on a personal level? Why do we make ourselves vulnerable to the emotional roller coaster sports is known to take us on?
The simple reason is joy. Sports fans experience an inordinate amount of disappointment. There are far more bad times than good. But there remains a willingness to endure pain and hardship because we know that ever elusive moment of unfiltered and uncompromising joy is around the corner. There are very few industries that illicit the sheer happiness that comes along with a great sports experience. It can lift our spirits and brighten our days. We crave that feeling and when it comes there are few things better in life.
We tend to idolize those athletes that can repeatedly deliver those moments. It is why we love Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera and Aaron Judge and Kobe Bryant. Outside of being tremendous athletes, they are all able to create moments that validate our fandom. They help us pay off our heavy investments in sports. We give thanks by immortalizing them.
It is important to note that Kobe, along with many of our sports heroes, was not perfect. When we look back on his life, we must acknowledge the inexcusable actions as much as we cherish the good times. There are times our athletes will disappoint us. We must be willing to accept that comes with the territory of cheering on flawed humans. We hope those low points pave the way for a road to redemption and it appears Kobe was heading down that path.
While it is true that devastating tragedies like this one remind us to hug our loved ones tighter, it should also remind us to cheer even harder. We should invest even more. Our commitment to feeling that joy should grow. Sports are truly a gift to cherish. As we get closer to the 2020 Yankees season, we shouldn’t limit our passion or hopes for the team. Life and seasons continue to fly by in a blur. It would behoove us to appreciate each one as if it could be our last.
Everyone on the Views From 314ft staff wants to send our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, Alyssa Altobelli, John Altobelli, Kerry Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester and Ara Zobayan. May you all Rest In Peace.