The Effect of Sports on My Life
As I finished up the first week of a new high school sports season, I started thinking about what a big role sports, especially high school sports, has played in my life. Because both my father and mother came from sports oriented families it was only natural that a lot of our family activities centered around the local high school sports teams. I grew up in a small town in mid Michigan and like most small towns a lot of the social scene revolved around high school games, whatever the season.
Our family followed our own town's teams, of course, but also come tournament time we would continue to follow other area teams when our own was eliminated from state competition. Many of my favorite memories from my childhood involve family trips to some distant town to watch one of our favorite teams compete. Because we lived close to Michigan State University, it was an annual ritual to take in the state basketball championships each year. As a result I witnessed many players in high school who would later become professional stars.
Although I played three sports in high school, my success was modest at best. I did manage a couple seasons of college baseball, mainly as a batting practice catcher but did enjoy the camaraderie of a college team. I also served as the statistician for the college basketball team.
After college, my sports involvement lay dormant for a few years as I began my career in information technology and started my own family. It didn't take long to resurface, however, as I started a 17 year career as a high school official working both football and basketball. I gave that up as my own kids began to play sports and my focus shifted to following their track, basketball, and cross-country events.
Over the years I did continue to participate in sports in company leagues and pick up games. In my forties and fifties I picked up a new sport, competitive race walking, and it was in this sport that I enjoyed the most success, including several state senior olympics championships and many top 10 national finishes. A minor heart rhythm problem put an end to that when I turned 60.
When I retired and moved to Northern Michigan, I took up photography as a hobby to help pass the time. After much learning and practice, I starting shooting local sports teams, and found I had a knack for it. It was a fitting way for me to get back into the high school sports scene. I am now starting my 14th year shooting sports locally and my 9th year as a business.
The arc of sports has come full circle in my life and I couldn't be happier about it. I have met so many great people doing this, including coaches, parents, officials, administrators, and best of all, some of the very best of our young people.
I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like without sports, but honestly I simply cannot imagine it. I have heard the National Anthem played innumerable times - they should probably play it at my funeral. On second thought, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" would be more appropriate.