Often times, sports have us so consumed, we often lose sight of what they were intended for in the first place.
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who will tell you that sports were first created as a means of exercise and recreation anymore, or even more so, anyone who truly believes that. But that’s precisely why they were put on this earth in the first place.
And does anyone really believe anymore that sports pull people together from all walks of life? That they are unique brand of socialization which bonds people, teams, men, women, young and old?
More than likely not.
But just look back at this past year on the Hi-Line and one can argue that’s exactly what one of the most memorable sports years in our area did.
If there’s one thing almost everyone in Havre can agree on, the achievements of former Blue Ponies like Marc Mariani and Gary Wagner in football have certainly instilled a sense of pride in our community, a community which always has had plenty sports pride.
But when homegrown talent like Mariani and Wagner mention our town in a press conference, or when analysts at the NFL Network shout out the Havre Blue Ponies, or when the town is mentioned as Wagner runs towards the endzone in the NAIA national championship game, it does something to all of us who live here, and it’s much more than just about the winning and losing aspect of sports. It brings us together and unites us in a prideful and important way.
And that’s something we tend to overlook when we try to justify the relevance of sports in our lives.
Things like Facebook are intended to increase socialization among us, but sporting events have been doing that for years.
Following Rocky Boy all the way to the Class B state championship this past season is something that will always be etched in my mind, but long after the final buzzer sounded on the Stars’ state championship last March, it’s the relationships that were built along the way, the fun I had with Stars’ fans, friendships I was able to build through covering a superb boys basketball team which will stick with me forever.
And the same goes for the football season.
Chinook’s run to the Class C state championship will live in infamy on the Hi-Line, but it also did something else — it brought the entire area together for a common cause, to watch a group of extraordinary young people do something no one from their school has ever done before.
Some may not have noticed, but I certainly noticed the fact that there were so many people in the cold and snowy bleachers in Chinook during the playoffs, from Havre, Kremlin, Box Elder and all over the Hi-Line. And the same goes for Big Sandy’s run to the playoffs as well.
The games were great, the players were great and winning state championships is something no one forgets. But Chinook’s triumph was much more than what the final score showed and it should serve as a reminder that there is much more to these games than just winning and losing.
Just like Havre, the Hi-Line and the state is being bonded together by Marc Mariani’s incredible 2010, and hopefully beyond, it goes to show the impactful power sports can actually have on a community, on people who otherwise probably wouldn’t even know each other, and it’s a part of the games we tend to overlook all too often.
I know, being such a sports fanatic, I’m guilty of overlooking and appreciating just what sports mean in the grand scheme of things far too often.
The past year has been one of the most successful years in recent Hi-Line history. Many teams won state high school championships, a local hero won a collegiate national championship, kids are in the record books for great team and individual accomplishments and Havre has a star in the NFL. All of that has made 2010 a year that will never be forgotten.
But all of those things have also had a profound effect on many peoples lives for reasons that go way beyond the games, the fields of play, the gyms, the scoreboards and all of the blood, sweat and tears.
In every instance of why it was such a great year in sports in our corner of the world, we were all brought closer together, if even for a short while. And that’s something I’m going to remember this time, and something I’ll cherish from here on out.
Here’s hoping the same will be said in 2011. Happy New Year.