Around the world, sports are often endowed with a quasi-supernatural status. They represent a powerful force that brings people together regardless of age or background. They serve a transcendent, unifying role that deeply permeates society, sometimes even taking precedent over work or academic obligations. I can see it in the FIFA World Cup, when millions of fans cheer wildly in support of their national team. I can see it in a football game at a sports bar, where fans from all over the city come together to eat nachos and watch the TV screens. I can see it in a balmy September afternoon at Nationals Park, where people come more to socialize than to actually watch what is happening on the field.

Sports exist in their own little makeshift reality. Despite all of those overused catchphrases (which I even use for the title of this column!), sports really do seem like “just a game.” Sure, the games can be of enormous size, and people can get a little too worked up about them. There is lots of money involved and plenty of investments on the line.

But ultimately, sports are “just a game” because they offer us an escape from all of the things we do not want to do. They carry us away from the reality of the working world, serving as one big distraction from all of the essays and assignments we have due after the weekend is over. They are a reason to have parties and celebrate with friends. They are an excuse to scream your lungs out and run around the hallway like a buffoon when you favorite team wins.

I am not saying that these distractions are not beneficial. We all need something to cheer about away from the classroom or office. Whether we are playing or watching them, sports are the epitome of “fun.” But it is also vital to put these games in perspective.

Outside of providing you some personal enjoyment, how much does a baseball or football game really matter? How big of a deal is it that the Seahawks beat the 49ers last weekend, or that the Nationals beat the Braves and might actually make the playoffs? Remember all that hype last year about Washington making the postseason for the first time since 1933? When they lost to the Cardinals in the first round and their ground-breaking run came to an end, how many fans were still bothered a few days later? Sure, the stadium must have been deathly quiet as the fans walked out through the gates. The Cardinals’ four-run rally in the last inning sure was a “bummer” and “too bad.” But was it a tragedy? Were people pulling their hair out or crying the next week?
For those that were, you need to get a life. You have got to put it all in perspective. Learn to value things that truly matter. Value the fact that you can attend a game and tailgate with your family without being upset that your team lost on a last-second field goal. Appreciate that you can form an intramural team with your best friends from freshman year without losing sleep over dropping the fourth-quarter touchdown. Get excited about just being a part of the student cheering section, even if the Hoyas lose by a few points to a Big East rival.

I think we all learned a valuable lesson about perspective on Monday, and I would be remiss to not mention the horrific shooting at the Navy Yard that claimed 13 lives, including the shooter, and wounded eight. Only a few blocks away from the shooting, Nationals Park was closed for the evening, and the scheduled game against the Braves was postponed until the following day.

That empty stadium, with its vacant seats and dimmed lights, is perhaps the most fitting symbol of reverence for the victims of that tragedy. For at least one night, we were reminded that there are things much greater than a sports game or playoff run that deserve our attention. When you compare a sports game to moments as tragically powerful as those we read about on Monday, the game really does seem like just a game. That perspective is something worth remembering.

Nick Fedyk is a senior in the College. MORE THAN A GAME appears every Friday.

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