They are games. They are just pointless games.
If you quantified the number of hours that I have spent playing, watching, reading about, writing about, talking about and thinking about these pointless games, it would make you sick. If I invested those hours into something like opening a restaurant, I'm convinced that I would be Gordan Ramsay.
We are legitimately talking about hundreds of thousands of hours.
It seems so pointless. We debate coaching decisions and invest so much time in the minutia of measurables and track times. We stress about what position we will play on our little league teams and how much playing time we will get on junior varsity basketball teams.
And for what?
They are meaningless games.
But those meaningless games can give us everything.
On Monday morning, I struggled focusing on my banker work. I tried to take a break and write about BYU, but struggled putting coherent words on paper.
I wasn't angry. I wasn't broken hearted.
I was thinking about sports. Specifically, I was thinking about the Syracuse Sting - my childhood baseball team.
I received news on Monday morning that an old teammate, Drew, was in car accident on Sunday morning. He passed away from his injuries at 32 years old.
I was in fourth grade the first time I played on a baseball team with Drew. That winter, his dad started a competition basketball team that each of us played on. The next year, we were both invited to play on a competition baseball team together. We played on that competition basketball team through junior high. We played baseball together all the way through high school.
The memories came flooding in.
Drew and I were the slowest people on the baseball team - regularly referred to as "The Sundial Boys" by our coaches when it was time to run sprints.
He was skinny - like weirdly skinny, even for a pre-teen goof like all of us were at one point. Skinny and slow was a bad combination for stealing bases. And yet, to my recollection, he was never thrown out when he would try and steal.
He was so slow that the catcher would usually get the ball to second base long before Drew would get to the bag. The second baseman would go to make the tag and Drew wouldn't be there. He was too slow. Typically, this resulted in confusion for a pre-teen second baseman and he struggled to figure out where Drew was. At that point, Drew would finally arrive to steal the base and would promptly jump over the top of the defender and would land on the base. Safe. Every time.
I remember the way he dove for fly balls in right field. Every time he hit the ground, he would let out a prolonged "ughhghggh" that could be heard from the parking lot.
I remember driving with him in the back of his dad's truck to basketball games in 7th grade. We would bring the TV down in his dad's super nice truck and plug in a DVD while we drove to wherever our game was. If it wasn't 8-Mile, it was American Pie 2 (and you all know what scene we hoped to see).
Our basketball team sucked. Like really, really sucked.
Our baseball team was really, really good. We played together in high school and were no longer really, really good, but we still had a great time.
We once drove to St. George as a baseball team. Our coaches rented a giant van and rented two hotel rooms - one for the coaches and one for the players. Parents didn't make the trip to this tournament.
Man, we had a blast at that tournament. We had stupid 14-year old humor and thought we were hilarious when we made our way to the grocery store and bought a giant box of Trojans. We were 13 and 14 years old. We had no idea what to do with them, but we knew it was hilarious.
"Maybe I'll try to poop in one!" Drew told the team.
He tried. It didn't work.
I went to cover the Weber High vs. Syracuse High quarterfinal game a couple of weeks ago. Coincidentally enough, I ran into the head coach of that baseball team all those years ago. I hadn't seen him in years, but when I walked into the bleachers and sat next to him to say hello, it was like he was still the coach.
We shared stories and we reminisced on the good times from 20 some-odd years ago. He was coach. I was a player. It was natural and it was great to catch up with him.
I missed nearly a quarter of the game that I was covering because I was so excited to see my old ball coach.
I thought of Coach Hill as I was sitting there trying to comprehend the loss of Drew. It brought a smile to my face.
This isn't a 'woe is me' article and you don't need to send me any condolences. Truth be told, I hadn't seen Drew more than once or twice since I've been married. Life got in the way, like it does to all of us, and we all went our separate paths.
But the memories of sports with my friends made Monday morning a little harder than most Monday mornings are. But, I laughed to myself a little more than I do on a Monday morning too.
Saturday afternoon will be sad as I watch his little girl have to bury her Dad. It will break my heart when I embrace a former basketball coach who let a bunch of stupid kids watch 8 Mile in his truck. There will be sadness.
But, even in the middle of those services, I am confident there will be stories shared and laughs between old teammates. We will remember many of the same stories and anecdotes that I've detailed here. In the middle of one of the saddest events that I'll go to, there will be memories of good times. Why?
At Give 'Em Hell, Brigham, we strive to use sports to create the same camaraderie that my old baseball team had. No, we won't spend hours at practice and travelling around the United States playing baseball, but we will let the conversation of BYU bring us together.
Some of us have met outside of our popping Discord channel. We plan to host events and watch-parties in the future so we can continue to get to know each other. Some of us are only known as a username.
But it's relationships that matter. We're a GEHB family. That is not meaningless.
The same way my old relationship with Drew wasn't meaningless.
No, not hardly.
They are sports.