Sports Are The Ultimate Friendship Finders

A close friend lives in Oklahoma. He works in Oklahoma City. My Gmail account sent him an email recapping a conversation about the NCAA tournament.

It sent before a deadly tornado swept through Oklahoma City. Fear overtook any rationale for the email. A joke about the NCAA tournament could be the last thing I sent his way. What a terrible thought.

At last, it became clear that he stood untouched. A road trip kept him away from the awful winds. All was right. A close friend remained safe. The experience made something painfully clear - for people like me, friendships can be built and maintained entirely through sports.

The only reason my friend became my friend was due to a Virginia Tech sports blog. He offered me a spot. We did whatever we did, and now neither of us writes there. He's still my friend. We watched a men's soccer game in the snow together. That's an experience only friends are capable of enjoying.

Sports are such a finite part of this universe. Normal people lack obsessive interest in records and intricacies in highlight-reel plays. Fans - and writers - see things differently. There's no way to explain to a normal person the importance of something sports-related. They never get it.

That's important to remember. It reminds us all that sports aren't that big of a deal. In one way, they create the vacuum where we exist every minute of every day. In another way - a much bigger way - they remind us of how trivial stat lines and record books are. (The harshest example of this is when someone eats, sleeps and breathes sports and then tries to get a job in the sports world.)

No matter the outsiders, as they simply will not understand. It's up to us like-minded fanatics to stick together. We enjoy topics of discussion that are on the surface level of the ESPN highlights, or we dig deeper. To have a conversation about the irrelevance of Bryant Reeves in the NBA is to speak a language far more obsolete than Greek to the normies.

Just as those who love knitting will eventually befriend one another, sports fans will too. When my friend's future stood in limbo, it was worth it to know that he'd actually want our last exchange to be something tongue-in-cheek about a tournament's prediction. That's just where we exist. The list of sports friends is so long at this point that it's in its own zip code. Where to start? When another Eagles fan is seen in public, there's always an exchange. "Hey man, nice shirt. Go birds."

Even with Eagles fans, this first sentence is met with a smile. If you attend a school out of your team's market, you can find these people at your nearest sports bar. They are looking for you in a sports fan way - lazily. When they find you and you find them, the link is instant and firm.

Chris from outside Philadelphia is somewhere cursing Cole Hamels' contract. It doesn't take much to envision him, a kid only known through the usual meeting place when the birds were about to kick off. He lived in Colorado last I talked to him, some three years ago.

Steve shared a living space in college. He adopted the Eagles, but his first love is the Chicago Bulls. He texts when the birds make roster moves worth texting about. It's a comforting gesture that reconnects us. It's worth as much as long phone conversations.

Those exist too. Joe picks up the phone every Thursday and Friday on my commute home, and we span the globe in something that resembles a two-hour long x-rated radio show about sports.

The list goes on and on, and there's something interesting about a friendship that revolves around one thing and yet it embodies everything. People you come across are no different than those you never meet; they just might be in the right place and root for the right team.

Twitter mastered this connection to a science. There, you can meet thousands upon thousands of fans who share your thoughts on the team that rips your heart out. Several Eagles fans on my feed are as close to me as old friends. They're from Columbus, Ohio, and Seattle, Washington, and everywhere in between.

So, while it's important that we find safety in the friendships we find, we realize that sports merely serve as the vehicle for interaction. On a dreary day when nothing goes right, a text about last night's game can make the difference. That difference - the one that alters the mood enough to enrich moments - found me through sports. It found me through a friend in Oklahoma City who happened to be out of town on Monday.

His reply in my inbox read: "lolololololol if this had been the last thing you'd ever sent me."

If it had been the last thing, it would've been perfect. It would've been a parting shot that I could always live with, because we are who we are and our friends know us for us.

Those who came into our lives - or stayed - because of sports know us for our critiques and jokes of the games. They know us as a friend and a sports fan, two things that should remain perfect until the end of time.

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