What Team Sports Can Do For Our Mental Health

We’re about ready for March Madness to formally begin, tomorrow morn. Why’s it that this time of yr appeals to so many?
There’s just something magical about team sports, & about knowing the personal stories behind each of the teams playing in the Tournament.
Of course there’s a story to share here too! Even before walking-on to my college’s b-ball team, one of the best stretches of my life that I look back on – was my time learning about sports & life as a member of a true TEAM, & from one of the greatest leaders I’ve ever had a chance to play for – my HS basketball coach.
You see the banner says ‘96 Conference Champs in the top pic. That was actually my Junior yr. The guy you see in the black jacket & hat who I’m leaning on, JJ, was a Senior that yr. Amidst a late season run of wins to take that conference title, our team was rocked to its core when JJ’s father passed away to a disease we knew so little about in the mid ‘90s, ALS.
The juxtaposition of the high of our success on the court, to the low we felt as a FAMILY was tremendous. I can remember consoling JJ at practice & then attending his dad’s funeral – our whole team/classmates/town’s fans/coach.
I don’t know how we were able to pick ourselves up from that tragedy, but that pic in the bottom right should show the intensity that came w being part of that team. We’d go on, shortly after the funeral, to win a huge playoff game at home against Elmont HS, & you can see the kinda raw emotions that came from those victories.
Team sports taught me/us: roles, responsibilities, teamwork, when to step up, when to step back, hard work, determination, perseverance, & family. To this day, this team is close. We came together bc of coach, bc of tragedy, bc of common goals, passions, & sacrifice.
When you watch the Tourney these coming wks, get to know the personal stories behind the teams. There is beauty in the challenges they face, how they come together, & how these memories they make will teach lessons – that stay w them for life. Few things, if any, can compare to the purity of amateur team sports – for players AND fans.

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