Forty-seven yards away. Down by one. The ball was advanced enough on the first three attempts to be in position to clinch the game right here, but now it was attempt No. 4 and everyone knew the magnitude of the situation. This was it: do or die, sink or swim. Nothing but 141 feet of grass and nerve-rattling tension stood between the ball and that yellow metal pole sticking out of the ground.
I lined up and swung. I chunked it. In fact, my divot flew further than my golf ball.
“Haha! You suck, Sohn!” exclaimed my so-called friend, Chris Dierks, to whom I had just lost the match. It was Friday afternoon and we, along with another friend, Robby Ross, were finishing up nine holes of that anger-inducing game known as golf at Hueston Woods. It’s a game I only recommend if you’re one of the following: really good at it, or a masochist. I’m the latter. But somewhere on the drive back to Miami University, I realized that despite my triple bogey on the ninth hole that led me to forking more than 10 bucks to Dierks, I actually enjoyed the golf outing. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, the type that’s custom-made for surfing and beach volleyball if we lived anywhere near a coastline. I was outside, with two friends talking about everything from football to girls to grills while trying unsuccessfully to pummel a white, dimpled ball.
And this is the essence of sport. While the competitive nature of sports dominates headlines, and rightfully so, sport is so much more than winning, losing, doping and firing. Sport is an almost singularly powerful phenomenon that can bring people together for the purpose of having fun, letting loose and bettering yourself both physically and mentally.
Later that night was the indoctrination of Friday night skating at the new and oh-my-God- spectacular Goggin Ice Arena. True, the rink (the intramural rink, unfortunately, not the varsity) was more packed than Skipper’s likely was, but just the sight of all of Miami’s different demographics was a sight to behold. There were old high school hockey players trying to rekindle the past glory, non-drinkers having a good time with a Friday night alternative to the bars, inebriated students having a good time after the bars, first-year couples out on a first date. Yet through all their differences, they were all participating in a common activity, a sporting activity. Scotch isn’t the only thing you can put on ice.
Saturday it was game day down at Yager. But the RedHawks and Golden Flashes were far from the only ones playing that day. Walking to the stadium you could see students tossing the Frisbee and football around, and every now and then an overzealous frat boy would run and lay out his buddy during a pregame tailgate. Oh, the brotherly love!
But therein lies the beauty of sport. Sport isn’t just sitting on your couch watching ESPN; it’s getting out and taking advantage of all the opportunities we have to participate. Only a select few of us have the talent and dedication it takes to participate on a varsity team at Miami, but almost every one of us has the ability to go on a run through Western campus, play Ultimate Frisbee on a quad or pump some iron at the rec. Heck, even busting a move at an uptown bar qualifies. Granted, I look more seizure than suave on the dance floor, but I give it the old college try.
One of the blessings of going to college in rural Ohio over a big city is that we’re given more opportunities to get outside and participate in a variety of sports. Take advantage of it. Better yet, take advantage of it with your friends. Nowhere else can you hang with your buddies and get a workout in as well than in the world of sports. On your next date, finish up your cooked fish by going to Cook Field. Run some laps or kick around a soccer ball.
There’s nothing like getting thinner after dinner.
Sports are all around us. Especially in Oxford. Take advantage of them. You’ll enjoy it more than you’d imagine. But don’t thank me, you’ll thank yourself.