Football can mean more than just a game

By Mike Romor

Sports really can be more than just a game.

That was the case in Sunday night’s Baltimore-New England matchup.

Baltimore wide receiver Torrey Smith was playing to help his team win a crucial contest between two AFC powerhouses, but he was also playing for a much bigger purpose.

For Smith, whose brother died in a motorcycle crash Sunday morning, the game was about honor and passion. It was about dedication to a loved one, to someone he shared the love of football with long before he was an NFL star.

That is what makes football, and all sports, so important in our lives. People have a tendency to wrap themselves around winning or losing, but moments like Smith’s emotional two-touchdown performance help put the game into perspective.

Doing what Smith did takes enormous strength. After the loss of a loved one, being able to perform the most minimal of tasks can be a challenge. To go out in a rivalry game and make the plays he made just hours after such earth-shattering news is beyond remarkable.

Smith’s legendary night made me think of why these games mean so much to me in more ways than just the outcome. It makes me think of why sports hold any significance in my life.

They are significant for one main reason: my grandfather. He died when I was just 8 years old, but memories of him continue to live in me.

He was the type of man who would be disgusted to hear the Star Spangled Banner performed on electric guitar, but would still stand strong and solemnly to honor his country.

He was the type of man who would go on rampant tirades when the referees blew a call in a Chicago Bulls playoff game.

He was the type of man who never missed a Bears game, no matter how agonizing it was to watch.

His love of sports soon became my own. I would not be anything like who I am now if it wasn’t for his presence in my childhood. I started watching sports before I could even read the scores because I wanted to have something in common with him.

I would call him after Bulls games to ask his thoughts on the game and would quickly duplicate his opinions as my own.

He is the reason I follow Chicago sports. Without him I would have no passion for the sports I now eat, sleep and breathe.

I have been reminded countless times I act the same as my grandfather when I watch sports. That is okay with me. It helps remind me of why I even choose to watch the games that cause me so much grief.

That is why performances like Smith’s are so important. When Smith suited up Sunday afternoon, he probably had a whirlwind of memories of his 19-year-old brother—who Smith helped his mother raise—circling around his head.

It can be good to have that emotion. It helps keep everything in perspective.

The memories of loved ones keep passion alive in you forever.