Sports is in All of Us

There are many sayings in the world of sports.  One of them is, "You win some, you lose some."  Today, Egypt both won and lost.  The people of Egypt happily lost a dictator, and won (what they hope to be) a newfound freedom.

 Today we have to step back from the world of sports and recognize the historic day that the youth of Egypt have given us.  It's not every day a dictator steps down, and it's definitely a sign of the times when social media plays such an important role in such a series of events.  It's exciting, revealing, provocative and unsettling all at the same time.

 But what caught my attention on the radio this morning were comments that we haven't seen this level of excitement and celebration in the streets of Cairo since the World Cup.  Don't misinterpret; I'm not comparing a soccer game to an historical change in the country's leadership.  What I thought was remarkable was how the correspondent on the radio used soccer as a means to relate the celebration and euphoria in Egypt.

You may think this is nothing, but I see the incredible influence team sports have in everyone's life – including a country's culture.  When someone mentions a soccer game celebration, a majority of the world’s population knows exactly what that means.  Don’t take the effect of team sports on our world lightly.  It’s more powerful than we realize.

From the Mission to Kilimanjaro: Where's Your Game?

Every once in a while I stumble across something that reminds me of just what a pickup game can do. Like the other night. On my way home from a swim in the Mission District, I stopped to watch a late game of pickup soccer. Winter is when we count our blessings in SF - while the rest of the country is blanketed by snow, we have warm days that almost make us forget the cold and foggy summers that lie ahead. The field was green (ok, so maybe it was artificial turf, but hang with me here), kids were running back and forth on the sidelines, their parents and older siblings were out passing the ball back and forth, and under the stadium lights I was struck with the thought that a whole community had come together at the end of their week in a way that they might have done in Bogota, or Mexico City, or maybe just down the road in LA. That night, I thought, pickup games helped strengthen a community.

Juneau-based mountain guide Bill Dwyer had a similar thought when climbing in Kilimanjaro, and then turned it on its head. Writing for JuneauEmpire.com, Bill describes the inspiration that drove him to use to soccer to bridge a divide between porters and clients that went deeper than language and money. Halfway up the highest mountain in Africa, Bill's started pickup games that brought him into a community, even if only for a short while. His story is here: http://www.juneauempire.com/stories/020411/out_780512023.shtml.

The next time you travel, forget the paperback and the headphones. Bring a soccer ball. We'll put you on the map with Pickup Sports. You don't need to learn the language.