It seems that someone is always asking me the question, “Why do you watch so many sporting events?”

When I go to my parent’s house, my mom doesn’t mind all of the sports we watch but she does ask me why we always have an urgent need to watch a game all the time. My wife, despite being the most supportive “sports wife” in history, sometimes wonders why I can’t help but turn to a sporting event when I see it on TV. Whether it’s basketball, baseball, football, golf, NASCAR, ping pong, volleyball, cricket or anything else – if it has a winner and a loser, I’ll watch it.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reminded about the reasons I watch sports. Watching the ESPY’s (yes, I watch the ESPY’s – they deal with sports, don’t they?) reminded me of one reason. While watching the Best Play category and seeing replays of Eli Manning work his way out of a tackle and then chuck the football downfield to David Tyree who made an unbelievable catch to help the Giants win the Super Bowl, I got goose bumps. Sure, the play was exciting – even watching it several months after the fact. But because I watched the game live, I remembered the events surrounding the miracle catch – that the Patriots were undefeated and that the Giants looked like they might lose the game until that catch. And those memories made watching the play again that much more special.

Every Thursday and Friday of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, I’m reminded of why I watch sports. For as long as I can remember, I have taken those two days off of work to watch as many tournament games as possible. For the past several years, I have travelled to the games with my brother and dad. There’s nothing better than sitting in a seat that is just a little too small, eating semi-warm hot dogs and nachos and watching basketball for 12 hours a day. It’s something I look forward to every year and it’s created a lot of memories I can look back on with fondness.

On Sunday night, I was reminded once again why I watch sports. The United States 4×100 meter relay team was racing in the finals that night and France had already been talking about how they were going to “smash” the Americans. After three of the four swimmers had finished, it certainly looked like that was going to be the case. France had nearly a whole body length lead on the Americans with only 100 meters left. Yet somehow, the Americans came back to win the race by eight ONE HUNDREDTHS of a second. The absolute joy on the swimmers’ faces was amazing. And the next day, that’s all people were talking about on the radio. It brought everyone together despite all of the other differences they may have had before the race – even if it was just for a few minutes.

I think I got the love of sports from my dad – who in turn was taught his love of sports from his parents. Grandma and Grandpa Hilton were charter season ticket holders of the PMah Jazz. They hardly missed a game through all of the years they had the tickets. They often took me to games when we were visiting them in Salt Lake City. Every time I arrived at my Grandparents’ house, my Grandma would make sure to put up even more Jazz paraphernalia around the house just for me – a huge Phoenix Suns fan. The beds my kids stayed in had Jazz comforters, they also ended up with PMah Jazz bags to put their clothes in by the time we left and Grandma was always trying to convince me that the Jazz were a better team than the Suns because they had John Stockton and Karl Malone while all Suns had was Charles Barkley.

 

Grandma Hilton’s love of sports is something Dan will always remember – despite her being a Jazz fan.

We didn’t live near my Grandparents while growing up and I was always a little jealous of my cousins. They were so close to Grandma and Grandpa while I seemed to have to reacquaint myself with them every time we visited. But the one thing I found I always had in common with my Grandparents was NBA Basketball. When the Suns would play the Jazz, I would often call Grandma after every quarter. If the Suns were winning, she would try to convince me that the Jazz were just letting the Suns feel good about themselves for a few quarters. If the Jazz were winning, she was sure the Suns would be crushed by the end of the game. And on the rare occasion when the Jazz beat the Suns, I knew I could expect a gloating phone call from Grandma soon after. It was something that brought us together despite the miles that separated us.

My Grandmother died last Tuesday. We drove up to PMah to attend the funeral at the end of the week. As we walked into the viewing, we saw a table covered with memories about my Grandparents. And front and center on that table was an array of Jazz paraphernalia. I saw that and I couldn’t be sad. It reminded me of all of the good memories I had. Of talking to my Grandma on the phone during a game, her trying to get me to wear a Jazz shirt that had gotten too big for Grandpa and of Grandma always talking about how handsome Patrick Ewing was. She thought he was the most handsome man ever to play in the NBA. Maybe her eyesight was going long before the rest of her body did…

The moral of the story? There is definitely a reason I watch sports and it’s not just to waste time when I don’t have anything else to do. It’s because it connects me with other people. It’s something that draws people together who have nothing else in common. And it’s something that brings people together despite the fact that they live miles and miles apart. It’s something I’ll always remember fondly about my Grandparents – even if they did root for the Jazz.