Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 8/17/13
  Sports can be a life changing experience for some people. Here are a few of my reasons why I believe it should be apart everyones life. Going into my last couple pieces as a intern sports columnist for Isportsweb.com, I thought about ways on how I can make someone understand that what they’re reading is actually important to a lot of people who are living on this earth. As an Arab-American, people who are close to me always tell me why don’t I specialize in something that pertains to hard news journalism rather than sports, because they believe that is where I can have the greatest impact in my hopeful career as a journalist. Then they usually follow up that suggestion by saying, “You should be using your time wisely,  reporting on things that actually matter to the everyday life of an individual.” Now even though I agree that covering hard news would best suit me for the beginning of my career because of my background and with all the news opportunities going on right now in the Middle East, my ultimate goal and my ultimate dream is to be reporting on sports sometime in my career. So in this final 2 -part series, I will discuss to you my top 5 reasons why sports (should) matter to everyone on this earth. 1. Staying Healthy First things first lets get something straight; I am no health expert nor am I a health inspector. You can do whatever you want with your body, it’s your health and it’s your life. But if I am going to mention the top 5 reasons why sports matters to people, being healthy should definitely be on this list. So with that said, I think it’s crazy to watch the people who are my age or who are a couple years apart from me struggle to play non-organized sports because they are unhealthy. Rather it’s from bad drinking habits, bad eating habits, or from smoke, some decision in their life has slowed them down from being the healthiest person they can be. Now for those people whose bodies my not be 100 percent clear from things like alcohol, fats and oils, or cigarettes, but still try to keep a healthy lifestyle, will tell you that there is no better feeling in this world then how you feel after a nice workout, exercise, or a nice day of pickup basketball at the gym. In most sports, which can be physically be played, the contestants are allowing their bodies to be engaged in physical activity by competing against one another. Rather it’s through running, throwing, kicking, hitting, swimming, swinging, etc.,  your body is physically being put to work. Exercising and staying active helps prevent serious injuries and even prevents future harm to your body once you get older. Playing sports also helps with the mental mind state of a person as well. I always hear about how people who suffer from stress in their daily lives resort to drinking or smoking as their only two options to recover. Well how about playing a sport for a change? Playing sports is a great opportunity for a person to step away from the real world for a few hours and let off all the steam they have from within their bodies. Playing a sport can also let a person use their mind differently from the way that it was being used earlier in the day, like at work for example. Even doctors will tell that if you expect to stay alive for a time period that lasts longer than an average human being, the two most important things a person can do is eat right and exercise for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour each day. Why do you think all these organizations, like the NFL Play 60, are coming out with these programs that require kids to play outside for at least 60 minutes each day? It is important for kids to engage in physical activity in some part of their day, especially with living in an era in which we are dominated by technology. With all these new gadgets and computer games coming out, kids are forgetting the importance of going outside and playing with their friends. People who are 10 years older than me always bring up the times when they were younger and how they use to get yelled at by their parents for never being in the house because they were always out somewhere trying to play some kind of sport. Now and days, parents have to yell at their children to leave the house because they are always inside playing video games or something. It’s kind of scary to think where the generations 20 years from now will be in terms of their health. Because as long as technology continues to advance,  I feel like we will reach a time period where people will view exercising and being active as an option rather than a necessity to a persons’ healthy lifestyle. 2. Keeps your mind off things that don’t matter This subhead should be read the same way it was written; that sports helps a person keep their mind off of things that DON’T matter. Now you see, if I said sports helps a person keep their mind off of things that do matter, then it would mean that I look at sports as a way to escape from the realities of life. But I don’t, I am actually trying to explain  how sports helps with overcoming some of the harshest realities in life that a person may, and probably will, encounter. Like for instance, let me tell you a story about a conversation that one of my offensive coordinators and I had before a football game during my senior year of high school. Earlier in the week, our team learned that we had just become victims of a scandal in which all of our wins, our head coach, our staring running break, our center and right tackle, and one of our starting wide receivers had to be dismissed from the team. With four more weeks remaining to the season, our chances of making the playoffs were also thrown out the window, which would’ve been the first time our school made the postseason since 1999. Now take note that the city we played in, called Hamtramck, was a small ghetto town that was surrounded by Detroit. We only had 21 players on our team because playing football wasn’t considered the “cool” thing to do at our high school. So with all that negative news surrounding the team, you can expect the players who were still remaining on the roster to take the easy route in life and quit. Well that’s why my coach wanted to talk to me. What my coach told me that day was, as a captain of the football team, he needed my help. My coach looked me in the eyes and said, “You need to keep playing your heart-out, out there on the football field Omar. But don’t do it for me, don’t do it for the other coaches, don’t even do it for the fans. I want you to do it for the players that are still on this team. This sport is the only thing some of these kids have left. After this football season, I bet 75 percent of these kids will drop out and become bums right out of high school. I know it’s sad to hear Omar, but that’s just the honest truth. The coaches and I still drive around the town where we use to play high school ball in and we see some of our old teammates in junky clothes, eating food at the local community kitchen because that’s their only way to survival. These kids have no parents, they’re living with their grandma and grandpa, they barely have enough money to keep food on the table. So these last few weeks are important to them Omar, because this could be the final time where they’ll actually be happy and enjoy doing something fun in their life.” During that moment, my coach made me realize that playing sports is not just an hobby, but it can also be a life changing experience for some people. Including myself. Now you see, I didn’t fall under the same category of players in which my coach was referring to. I was blessed enough to maintain good grades and to have parents who were always there for me when I needed them the most. But I do understand that if I never played on any sports teams in high school, I would be like the majority of my other friends who, till this day, smoke like a chimney. I would be like all my other friends who have trouble breathing after going up and down a basketball court once or twice in a pick-up game. I would be like all my other friends who cared more about what other people thought of them rather than what they thought about themselves. To wrap it all up, sports always kept me occupied when I was growing up. I believe the people who bring the most trouble to our communities are the people who have too much time in their hands. If there was one thing that’s for certain about sports, it is that it will keep someone busy, especially from the things that don’t matter in life. Tune in tomorrow to read the final three reasons why I believe sports matter to all of us. Follow me on Twitter: @MrOT3    

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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