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Sometimes sports are better than fiction

March Madness is drawing closer by the minute. Soon we’ll have dozens of college basketball teams crowding the courts to determine who is the “best” team in the nation by the end of it all. The familiar squeak of shoes on the hardwood, the buzzer signaling time has run out, and the cheers of the winners are just some of the endearing things basketball fans look forward to.

As a big fan of basketball myself, it’s simultaneously one of the most fun and most devastating times of the year. (As an NC State fan, emphasis on the devastating.) There’s so much to think about. Which team is going to destroy your team’s hopes for a championship? Which ones will be the heartwarming underdogs this season? Which players will be making their last appearance before they scurry off to a career in the NBA? Who’s going to make the buzzer beater shot that will be replayed over and over again for months or even years to come?

We shall find out the answers soon enough.

But not everyone is as devoted to basketball as I am. Plenty of sports fans out there are football fanatics, baseball enthusiasts, and soccer lovers. There are so many options to choose from actually. The Olympics website, for example, lists 42 summer sports and 15 winter ones people can compete in. That’s a wide variety which includes things like sailing, golf, and everyone’s favorite: curling!

Though there are certainly plenty of people in the world who don’t have any interest in sports at all, there are plenty out there who do. But I wonder why we love it so much? Why are there whole television channels and radio shows and podcasts and books and blogs devoted to discussing the subject?

If you look at television ratings these days, you’ll see live sports broadcasts typically have larger audiences than even normal scripted TV shows. Maybe the plot twists of unpredictable and exciting games are sometimes just more thrilling than a fictional show? What’s that old saying? Oh yeah, the truth is stranger than fiction!

If you ask someone “what is the greatest moment in sports?” you’ll probably get a wide variety of answers.

There are plenty of potential answers that happened way before my time. Things like “The Rumble in the Jungle” fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game versus the New York Knicks, and Jackie Robinson breaking down barriers as the first African American to play major league baseball.

I can, however, remember some more recent great sports moments, like when Michael Phelps broke records with his eight Olympic gold medals in 2008, or when the 2016 Chicago Cubs won the World Series a whopping 108 years after their previous title.

Though sports statistics can be mind-boggling at times, it’s not always the record breaking that keeps me tuning into games each week. Sometimes sports are just plain weird. One of my favorite memories is watching the 5-overtime basketball thriller between Notre Dame and Louisville in 2013. My brother and I just kept watching our TV in disbelief wondering if the game might just go on forever. (It did not, unfortunately, continue on indefinitely even though I would have happily continued to watch. The game ended with Notre Dame securing the win 104-101 after playing for well over three hours.)

Maybe that’s why we enjoy sports so much? Because every game we watch might be the next great moment in sports history. We never know what will happen as the clock starts running or the ball begins moving or the player springs into action.

But then again, maybe it’s not that deep at all. It’s just something to pass the time and enjoy whether you’re competing or spectating. For sports fans, it’s just fun.

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or by phone at 252-332-7206.