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Redirecting our focus in sports

Going Long with Geisler

By Andrew Geisler, For The Miami Student

Scanning the daily sports headlines can be a depressing affair.

This isn't a new phenomenon either, though some may try to tell you otherwise. There's always been a lot worth condemning about sports.

Cheating of any sort, from steroids to the Tim Donaghy gambling controversy, can make it feel like the games in which we invest so much time and energy are not worth watching.

All too often, this is the position taken by sports fans and sports media. It's an intense focus on the negativity without the understanding that naturally, anything human beings engage in will come with some negative elements.

That's why we should view the lives of the sports world's rich and famous with a different perspective. There have been, are and always will be real aspects of our games worth celebrating.

When I was a young boy, my parents advised me to look into the background stories of the players I admired. They told me to make sure their characters were worth emulating before becoming a real fan - the best advice a budding fan could receive.

It made me the type of fan who always seeks to break down this negative posture. It made me interested in finding what's worth celebrating in sports.

What do we love when we love sports? We love it for the escape it provides. Sports isn't like the rest of life - it's better. It's the thing we look forward to at the end of a long day of real work. But for me, beyond this obvious draw, I've always loved the tactical brilliance required to achieve greatness on the field, court or diamond. Above all, I've admired the selflessness required to achieve this greatness.

Look at the major teams with continued success over the last 15 years. Teams like the San Antonio Spurs and New England Patriots all have achieved a certain level of selflessness and tactical brilliance that's worth emulating in life.

Say what you like about other ethical practices by the Patriots, but selfish players won't last long in New England. And selfishness is a toxic characteristic embraced by far too many in modern life.

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It may be hard to follow, and it may require real work to understand, but the intricacies in strategies - the 3-D chess that goes on between great coaches who have figured out how to maximize the effort of a bunch of inherently selfish individuals - this is what's worth celebrating about sports.

Sports fans can choose to be cynical. They can choose to focus their attention on the toxicity, but my brand of sports fandom will always be marked by a sense of wonder at the difficulty inherent in creating a real team and the hours of hard work required to out-scheme any kind of opponent.

Steroids, cheating scandals, bad refereeing: these will always be a part of the sports world, and they cannot be fully ignored if they ruin the games we love. But the focus must be elsewhere for us to truly enjoy the majesty of sports. And sports are a majestic thing. The players we see are the best in the world at the some of the hardest physical actions.

These aren't just in-born skills. In order to grow, athletes must put in real work. Just like how difficult it is to coach a team - to convince a bunch of headstrong individuals to subordinate their individual wills for the good of a team - it is insanely difficult to become a professional athlete.

These are the types of things we forget when we obsess over a deeply negative 24-hour sports news cycle.

But these are the reasons we truly love sports. Sports can be the best escape from the inanities of everyday life. It is one of the most fun ways to see the best of what humanity has to offer both physically and mentally.

If you love sports, try to truly appreciate sports without the negative filter. It's much more fun that way. Believe me.

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