My love of sports began to dwindle.
For six years, I worked towards being a big-time sportswriter. I covered professional sports for a little while, but I decided to take a different path in life. But like so many in the profession before, the job left me jaded. When people mention athletes that are nice guys, I scoff. When an athlete says, “it’s not just about the money,” I usually roll my eyes and shut off ESPN. With NBA and NFL lockouts this year, all we’ve heard about in sports news are greedy players and the more greedy owners.
My teams did little to keep me interested. The Lakers have been a soap opera and they don’t live up to (albeit sometimes astronomical) expectations. The Dodgers have been an off-field catastrophe of epic proportions over the last couple of years.
My sports flame was beginning to flicker out.
Until last week.
My sports savior came in the form of green and gold in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
My work sent me there for three days and for most people, I would guess that doesn’t sound all that intriguing. For a sports lover like me, the trip gave me a chance to cross something off on my sports bucket list.
I traveled to Green Bay with two other men, so when we finished early enough one night to actually enjoy the evening, it wasn’t a hard to convince everyone to swing by Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers. The hallowed field is located at Lombardi Avenue, obviously.
The stadium sits in the middle of a neighborhood. Seriously. You look across the street, and it’s houses, including one house that happens to have a giant Lombardi Trophy replica sitting in the front yard.
Driving by the stadium would have been enough for me. What I didn’t know is that we could actually hang out at Lambeau Field. Well, at least in the atrium surrounding the stadium.
From where my colleagues and I were sitting, we watched this unfold down below.
Children wait as patiently as they can (which of course means they look like they might explode with excitement) with their bikes as the players come out from Lambeau. Each player chooses a kid’s bike and rides down the short path to their practice facility. The owner of the bike carries that player’s helmet and runs alongside.
You’ll find the path lined with fans, who the players high-five along the way.
It was, undoubtedly, one of the coolest things I have ever seen.
Suddenly, it was easy to remember what drew me to sports in the first place.
At its best, sports creates community. At its best, sports put a smile on a kid’s face. At it’s best, sports give us the chance to appreciate athletic feats that 99% of us cannot have a hope of physically doing.
So thanks Green Bay. Thanks for the reminder that sports isn’t just about ugly divorces and overblown contracts.
Sometimes it’s just about a bike. And small town traditions. And the excitement that comes at the start of a new season.