Michael Vick teammates gives helping hand

The past year and a half has been one of the most difficult periods of my entire life. I’m not sure I can honestly say it’s been the most difficult, as I’ve endured plenty of hardships in the past, including but not limited to the loss of freedom and the ensuing struggle to get it fully back.

However, the past year and half has been taxing for me physically, mentally and emotionally. The reasons vary — the passing of loved ones, heartbreak, heartache, job transitions, relationships disintegrating, health issues and more — but the reasons really don’t matter all that much. What matters is that, even as our nation stands in turmoil and the world around us oftentimes feels ugly, there is one thing I can count on to block out all the swirling bullshit and fully enjoy being in the moment — sports.

I know it sounds cheesy and lame and over the top, but the truth of the matter is when I’m watching a game, attending a sporting event, or playing some pickup ball or beer-league softball, nothing else really matters. I’m totally engrossed in the moment, in the competition, sharing with my friends and strangers and anyone else even tangentially connected to whatever the game may be that same experience. Sports fans understand each other, connect with each other … and can escape the dourness of life’s challenges together.

No matter what thing is driving me crazy at the time, I know I can always tune in to a game, hop on Twitter or the phone to discuss the latest sports happening with friends and strangers alike, or go out and throw up a few shots and everything else melts away for a little while. Sports make sense to me. Sure, they can anger and upset both fans and participants alike, but at the end of the day, you learn to live with both the wins and losses, learn to appreciate the hard work and preparation put in, marvel at the remarkable feats and empathize with the failures. Sports can certainly reflect life … while sports can also deflect life.

Yesterday, on TSFJ email chain, we discussed this very topic, and for the most part, we all agreed we don’t really know where we’d be without sports in our lives. And you know what? I’m glad I’ll never have to find out, because time and time again, sports has saved me from my struggles and helped restored my sanity, even if for just those precious moments.

With all the bullshit life entails day in and day out, sports are there to save us all if we choose to let them.

On to the links …

The 10 Greatest One-Team NHL Players (Ranked!) – Grantland

The Hidden Victims Of The NFL’s Concussion Crisis – Regressing

David Byrne: Will Work for Inspiration. - Creative Time Reports

Episode 47: Jonathan Abrams – Steven Lebron

All Is Fair in Love and Twitter – The New York Times

Ways Parents Can Help Their Kids Have a Good Player-Coach Relationship – The Matador Sports

Souhan: Look for Kill to keep his word; he’s that kind of guy – Star Tribune

Wizards’ Otto Porter’s class act – The Washington Post

The Friend Zone: “…I don’t have anything to hide…” - When Keeping It Real Goes Right

Doris Burke joining ESPN’s NBA Countdown – Sports Illustrated

What lessons will Lane Kiffin learn? – ESPN.com

‘Made in America’ by Ron Howard: Magic and too much talk - Philly.com

ESPN hires Doug Collins – Awful Announcing

Proper Care And Reading – Sports Illustrated Vault