Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, February 5, 2008
This past Sunday evening, from about 6 to 10 p.m., I found myself in front of the TV watching the Super Bowl. Joining me were an estimated 105 million Americans who watched at least part of the game. With the U.S. population at about 300 million, that means that roughly 35 percent of Americans watched at least some of this event, plus millions more who heard or read about it. Football may be the most popular spectator sport in America, yet taken together with baseball, basketball, auto racing, soccer, hockey and a myriad of other sports, we get a clearer picture of a national obsession. One begins to wonder how much time the average American spends watching, reading, talking or thinking about sports in a given week. And of course, Americans are equally crazed over playing sports, working out and staying in shape. I will say it now: There is nothing wrong with playing sports, exercising or watching a sporting event. Playing sports makes one healthier, builds teamwork and sharpens the mind. And watching sports is a cultural practice that builds camaraderie, creates unity and provides excitement. And let’s face it, playing and watching sports is really a whole lot of fun.
But we’re reminded of that ancient adage, “Everything in moderation.” Sometimes when a good thing is pursued to excess, it becomes a bad thing. That is what I suspect may be occurring in the lives of millions of Americans who have made sports their No. 1 concern. Sports should be an important part of most people’s lives, yet one would be hard-pressed to argue that it should be the primary priority. Perhaps all of us at Notre Dame and in America need to step back for a moment and assess what our values really are. It has been suggested that our priorities should include, “God, country, Notre Dame.” To these, I humbly add family, friends and our professional and school commitments. Simply put, it has been shown too many times that whenever we invert these priorities, the results are disastrous. Sports are a lot of fun, but let’s not make a sport out of life.