Sports create outlet in life, provide lessons

Photo+by+Maribeth+Eiken

Photo by Maribeth Eiken

Luke Chval

Photo by Maribeth Eiken
Photo by Maribeth Eiken

I can’t remember a time in my life that my father, my brother and I weren’t completely sports-crazed, as if one of the most important things in my life were how well my favorites, Notre Dame athletics and Chicago professional teams were doing in their current season and beyond.
Just like every other sports fan, I’ve run into those people who don’t see the point in athletics, belittling it without understanding the viewpoint of sports fans. I’ve met countless numbers of people who tell me the notion of watching a ball or puck move for hours baffles them.
I can understand that, I suppose. It’s just one of those things that sounds silly when you think about it in a literal sense, but practically, sports are incredibly important to a lot of people all over the world and throughout, which can’t be an accident.
Not only was I a spectator during my life, but I’ve had my fair share of playing sports. For several years I played baseball and small amounts of tennis, which my mother and sister both played in high school. I never really had a knack for baseball, despite my love for the sport. And being incredibly scrawny made me nearly obsolete in playing football. However, about four or five years ago, I began to play tennis, which was where I had much more skill than the other sports and enjoyed it even more.
For the last couple years, I’ve started playing tennis intensively, being more invested in it more than anything else during my life. For 10 hours a week during the off-season and 15 hours a week during tennis season in the spring; it occupies my schedule.
I think that one of the reasons that this was beneficial for me was that I was used to being a spectator of sports, and was only playing sports recreationally. This can be harmful in a life philosophy as the people who are most happy or successful do very little spectating and spend most of their time doing things themselves.
Now I spend my time as the doer, which is more fulfilling in a long-term perspective. For those skeptics about the enjoyment of sports, some of my happiest and proudest moments occur in tennis. It is also a great stress reliever where I can forget about my problems for a couple of hours. I’m in better shape than a large portion of my peers and I’m on a team with an amazing group of individuals.
Last summer one of my favorite teams in sports and my favorite National Hockey League team, the Chicago Blackhawks, had made the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time in four years. The first two games of the best-of-seven game series were played in Chicago, and my brother and I were intent on going to seem them play.
For $400 each, my brother and I were in the standing room only section at the uppermost section of the United Center. At any other game, they would probably cost 20 times less, and I’m sure most people would consider me crazy for such a venture, but it doesn’t matter.
I’ve never seen an atmosphere so electric, a completely filled sea of red with a noise decibel level in the 100s, which was locked in a tie at one for the last half of the game. I had never paid as much attention to a game before, and it could not have been more exciting.
Unfortunately after nearly 15 minutes of overtime, the Boston Bruins scored; my team lost. I left the arena, empty-handed and disappointed. But, I didn’t regret going to the game for a second, especially a week later when Chicago won the series and became the Stanley Cup Champions twice in four years.
Playing tennis has not decreased my spectatorship of sports, but I think has made me appreciate those well-accomplished athletes more now that I have a sport that I invest a large portion of my time in. This commonality in athletics between them and me helps me understand some of the intangibles that are apparent in all sports, such as hockey, and parts of the mental game that I couldn’t recognize before.
 
By Luke Chval