From coaches to participants to spectators, we always seem to talk about a player’s ability to play the game.
Today, I write about our ability to play the game.
No, not about someone’s time in the 40-yard dash, his ability to throw a football, javelin or baseball or someone’s ability to tackle, catch or hit. My specific aim is to focus on our collective ability.
We are able to enjoy the sports of football, basketball, baseball and more only because of the many freedoms that our great country provides. It is an undeniable right that many fought for. It may have been your great-grandfather, grandfather, father, uncle, brother, son (daughter) or whomever. For several centuries now, Americans have fought and died for Americans’ liberties.
Because we are Americans and damn proud of it, we enjoy so many freedoms that we all take them for granted. Especially sports.
Sure, we all take the ability to play/watch a game for granted. But at what cost? The cost of a ticket? The cost of having cable television?
Dear friends, it certainly cost more than the price of a ticket or your monthly cable bill.
The expenditure is the lives and sacrifices of countless people, many of whom we studied in our history lessons at an early age. Several we’ve heard of; most we haven’t and never will.
In the final quarter (pun intended) of the 1700s, our forefathers fought for and won independence from Great Britain, and again solidified it with the War of 1812.
Those victories secured us our many freedoms, and they didn’t come cheaply.
Yet those freedoms have been threatened several times since, and each time the United States of America evolved as a stronger nation.
I often think of my pal Al Kroboth ’69, one of the first real big men to play basketball at The Citadel who, while a fighter pilot was shot down over Vietnam and served as a prisoner of war. I keep playing over and over in my mind’s eye how Pat Conroy ’67 wrote beautifully about Al’s POW experience in his 2002 book My Losing Season. To me, Al was a hero when I watched him play in the old Armory because he could rebound. I now view him as the real hero that he is.
I also think about someone I didn’t know, but met through Pat’s book. Joe “Rat” Eubanks was the basketball team manager who also perished in Vietnam, a person that Pat’s team honored by naming the basketball locker room area in his honor and memory.
This being the week of July Fourth, we need to pause and reflect on those that have given the ultimate sacrifice so we can enjoy so many freedoms, including the ability to play and/or enjoy the games.
Perhaps more importantly, the ability to enjoy the games without consequences.
May God continue to bless the United States of America, truly the residence of the free and home of the brave.
– Andy Solomon –
Associate Athletics Director