Why Sports?: Parting Shot

By Stephen J. Gleason

Coming into college, I had never really taken the chance to think about what sports meant to me. Growing up outside of Philadelphia, sports were always a thing that were there, but I never really had thought about why I loved them so much. Whether it was watching SportsCenter while eating breakfast or a Phillies game during dinner, playing hockey in my driveway with my brothers, running cross country and track, or spending Friday nights with friends at football or basketball games, sports were a huge part of my upbringing. However, it took me until college to realize why sports are so important to me.

Sports are often praised for their ability to bring people together. The narrative usually describes kids going to baseball games with their dads or how a team can help lift the spirits of fans who live and die with every game. In a football crazy town like Philadelphia, the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory in February certainly created a sense of pride and community for a fanbase that is notorious for pelting Santa Claus with snowballs.

I didn’t realize that my high school experience of playing and watching sports so religiously was the exception rather than the norm. Sports dominated car rides to school, free periods, and conversations at dinner. When I came to Harvard in the fall of 2014, I learned not only how to write a rugby article while comping the Sports Board of The Crimson, but also that not everyone at Harvard cared about sports. Who would’ve thought?

While the jubilation associated with victory is unique in its ability to bring people together, I’ve found at Harvard that sports can bring people togetheralbeit in a different wayno matter which sport or team that they love. Of this year’s seniors, Sam Christenfeld and Katherine Scott follow soccer religiously, Jackson Reynolds doesn’t miss tuning into an Alabama football game, Troy Boccelli is a diehard Chicago Bulls fan, and Sam Danello tortures himself by watching the Cleveland Browns (Sam once likened the Browns’ struggles against the Pittsburgh Steelers to having one’s legs run over by an 18-wheeler twice a year).

When Michael Ledecky persuaded me to come to the first comp meeting during my freshman fall, I didn’t anticipate that the Crimson Sports Board would make up such an important part of my college experience. While my love of sports brought me to the board, the people ultimately were the reason why I stayed. Some of my best friendships from college were formed while producing supplements on Thursday nights, driving up and down the East Coast covering basketball games, staying for Commencement the last two years, and planning in common rooms in Lev and over margaritas at Border. I watched the Cubs break their 108-year World Series drought eating Domino’s with the Sports Board at the Crimson, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

The Crimson gave me the opportunity to not just travel the world and sit courtside at countless basketball games but also the opportunity to form some of my most meaningful relationships at Harvard. Getting to cover basketball games in China and at the largest indoor arena in the US was pretty amazing, but what was better was getting to spend time in Shanghai and Lexington with some of my best friends from college. Having the opportunity to hold a leadership position with one of the most storied college newspapers was gratifying, but primarily because of the opportunities to work with some of the most genuine and hardest working people at Harvard. I’m so grateful to the 142nd and 143rd guards for their leadership, friendship, and mentorship. You all helped our class grow as writers and really made us feel like members of a community from the get-go. The board is in good hands with the 145/146/147 and I’m really excited to see where you guys will take it over the next few years.

What I will remember most about my time with the Sports Board is not how many stories I wrote or the success of the teams that I covered but rather the friendships that I formed and the experiences that I had over the past four years. Whether it was mind melding with Sam and Troy over the past two years, staying up until 4 a.m. editing hockey stories with Jake, coming up with kickers and captions, watching a whole lot of basketball, spending Thursday night supp nights and happy hours at 14 Plympton, Grand Elections, trips to the Kong, Dok Bua, and knockoff China King, closeouts, champagne showers, or basketball games against the HPR, some of my fondest memories of college are from The Crimson.

Sports Parting ShotsYear in Sports 2018