Letter to the Editor: Sports foster pride on, off the court

Only 10 days removed from the tragic events of 9/11, former Mets catcher Mike Piazza revived a city in mourning by hitting an unforgettable home run to cap off a comeback win against the rival Atlanta Braves.

Hours after he learned of his father’s sudden death the day before, Brett Favre decided to suit up for the game and make his dad proud on a special December night in 2003. In front of a Monday Night Football national audience, the Green Bay Packer legend had the game of his life — he threw for over 400 yards and four first-half touchdowns in a 41-7 trouncing of the Raiders.

At times, it can seem that sports are “just a game” and are simply not important. Moments like these make you think otherwise.

The famous sports columnist Rick Reilly once wrote about how teachers and professors continually criticized him for writing about sports and that he should put effort into more “important things” like foreign and domestic affairs. But, as we know, foreign affairs usually mean war, and domestic affairs turn into the dirty world of politics. These are topics that tear us apart. Team rivalries may tend to fuel discrepancies among friends and family, but in the end, they truly bring us together.

As I sat down and watched last week’s Rider men’s basketball games on my good ol’ VHS (it’s tough to convince extended family to watch live college basketball during Thanksgiving festivities), I couldn’t help but smile at the fact that our University was getting such great publicity — win or lose. Then I realized the role our teams, clubs and organizations can play in building Rider’s school pride and reshaping its image to the rest of the nation.

Rather than write my annual column in an attempt to convince students to support the basketball teams this winter, I leave it up to the readers. But I will say that there are only a handful of college students who have an NBA prospect in their midst (Jason Thompson), or a team attempting to make a historical turnaround from the cellar to the top (the women’s basketball team).

So, as I sit home in New York, watching our boys hang with some of the best teams in the nation (while sporting those cool new uniforms), I can’t help but think of how much of a healing presence that something as seemingly “unimportant” as basketball can provide to not only an individual, but to an entire community.

— Mike Caputo
Former Executive Editor of The Rider News
Class of 2007

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