Despite an Abrupt Stop, the Power of Sport Has No End

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Photo Courtesy: Brian Jenkins-UVM Photo

Like many others, I am still in disbelief at the NCAA’s decision to cancel all championships in response to the coronavirus pandemic. As a former college swimmer, current Swimming World staff writer, and someone who is studying sport administration while working in college athletics, the news hit me hard and my heart breaks for all the student-athletes this is affecting across all sports. While seasons came to an abrupt stop due to the drastic measures that had to be taken, the true power of sport can never be undermined – no matter the circumstance.

They say all good things must come to an end, and that’s true. All good things do come to an end.

You turn the last page of your favorite book; the final scene comes on of the greatest movie or show ever made. The best season of the year quietly fades into another one and the day slowly turns into dusk.

But it’s never an abrupt end. Not an uncalled for, unprecedented, happened-in-an-instance, blink-and-it’s-all-done type of finish.

You can see the book nearing its end as the pages become thinner, and you know the curtains will soon close as time ticks and the clock runs out. You feel the weather start to change and the cool night air settles in, waiting for the chance to do it again tomorrow.

The same goes in sport.

You know it’s the end when your hand touches the wall and you climb out of the pool for the last time, awaiting the hugs of your teammates.

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

You know it’s the end when you’re on the court one final time and look up to fans cheering for you and smiling, no matter the score.

You know it’s the end when you walk off the field with your head held high, knowing you left everything you had out there over the years.

That’s it. That’s how it’s supposed to end.

But you never saw this one coming. Why? Because this wasn’t how it was supposed to end.

As sport so often reminds you, things don’t always go as planned. You train day in and day out, yet you still miss the cut time. You fight hard until the end, but the other team fought just a little bit harder. You give it every fiber of your being and still come up short.

Yet sport continuously shows you how to get back up when pushed down and how to be brave when you feel weak. It instills in you a sense of resilience that can never waver and teaches you how to believe in something bigger than yourself.

Years from now, you won’t remember the times and you won’t remember all the scores. It’s impossible to remember every single practice, no matter how tough it may have been. Soon the sound of the whistle or the yell of your coach will become a distant memory.

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

But you will remember your teammates who quickly turned into lifelong friends. You will remember the laughs in the locker room and the jokes on the bus. You will never forget how your sport was always there for you, no matter how many times you said you were going to quit as you wished for just five more minutes of sleep.

And you will always, always remember the way your sport made you feel:

Strong.

Powerful.

Unstoppable.

To college student-athletes across the country, especially those seniors, a part of you was ripped away too soon with no warning. So cry. Mourn and sulk and scream at how life can sometimes be so, so unfair.

You’ve been knocked down, but you will rise again. You will move forward and face the unknown with the same courage you met every practice, meet, or game with. Nothing or nobody will ever be able to take away the legacy you helped create in your program and at your school.

Never forget how you are strong, powerful, and will always be unstoppable. That is the true power of sport – a power that nothing can conquer, and a power that never has an end.

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2 comments

  1. avatar
    Lorraine Mund

    This is such a powerful article. As the mother and grandmother of competitive swimmers, I know this message is true. My daughter’s college coach told his team that they weren’t growing up to be swimmers. True, but the time as a competitive swimmer just prepare him or her for life.

  2. Xtreme Swim

    Beautiful message at a difficult time. Thank you!

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