A while back, I started to notice something both intriguing and vaguely troubling.
If I mention to someone in conversation that I am a “sports guy,” nine times out of ten, the next thing out of their mouth will relate to spectating. “Did you see the Lakers game last night?” “How much more money can the Dodgers possibly spend without winning a championship?” And of course, “What do you think about [fill-in-the-blank re: football]?”
Hardly ever does anyone ask, “What sports do you like to play?”
It wasn’t always this way.
Up until a generation or so ago, if you self-identified as sports guy or gal (although the latter was not yet in full bloom as a species), it meant you played sports, you read about sports, and you talked about sports with your friends. Occasionally you watched sports being played by others, but if you wanted to see the best of the best, that experience wasn’t easy to come by.
Think about it. ESPN didn’t even exist until 1979. Cable television itself was less than a decade old at the time. Sports fans made do with radio broadcasts, baseball and basketball’s network “Game of The Week,” and the NFL’s Sunday double-header and Monday night game—and maybe a once-or-twice a year pilgrimage to the nearest large city to see a game in person.
In short, the watching of sports supplemented the playing of them. Spectating was just a tasty side dish.
Fast forward to today…
It is now possible—if you possess the stamina, the multiple devices, and the exceptional time-management skills—to watch at least some portion of every single game played by the five major professional sports leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NCAA Football). And, where a trip to the ballpark or stadium was once an exceptional occasion, it’s now taken for granted, despite the small fortune that it costs a family of four.
It can seem sometimes that the watching of sports has gone from supplementing to nearly supplanting the playing of them.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m got nothing against watching sports. In fact, I partake liberally. But when I am plopped on a sofa or barstool ingesting adult beverages and heavily-salted snack foods while staring at rapidly-shifting images on a screen, I don’t consider that “sport.” Enjoyable, yes. Sport, no.
It’s more like…“Sportainment.”
There’s something else that accompanied the rise of sportainment: the rise of chronically fat Americans. It doesn’t take a whole lot of investigative research to discover that America is collectively way, way, way out of shape. Just Google “America + obesity” and scroll through the millions of pages of results.
Of course, there are many other factors involved with this sad state of affairs. And while a life chock full of sportainment isn’t specifically harmful, few of the physiological changes that occur when watching a sporting contest fall under the heading of beneficial to one’s health.
In contrast, there are the almost exclusively positive physiological changes that occur when taking part in pretty much any athletic activity.
So here’s what I’m thinking: the active branch of the sports world needs its own name. Many would nominate “Recreation.” But to me that word tends to conjure up images of people leisurely milling about. Or Amy Poehler. We need something a little more representative.
See, I have it on good authority that what’s actually taking place among the millions of people that do spend their time in athletic pursuits extends far beyond the leisurely. These folks are competing, even if it’s only against themselves in continual attempts to improve upon their best-ever. Running the gamut from solitary to hyper-social, what’s going on definitely transcends basic recreation.
Let’s call it “Compreation.”
I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that there isn’t a lot currently being written about Compreation. In fact, a fictional horse race would show Compreation currently trailing Sportainment by 10 lengths. Down seven nil. Shut out through five innings.
Game Time For Life is here to help turn that around.
For reasons both personal and professional, I have witnessed over the past few years a huge number of people actively, passionately engaged in Compreation—albeit blissfully unaware of its now-official name.
The types of sports they’ve chosen to play vary widely, but the common denominator is that through athletic activity, these normal, everyday people of all ages have achieved a state of health and well-being far beyond that of the average American. And I’m not just talking about physical health. The communities that have organically sprung up around dozens of different participative sports are not only making their members more fit, they’re nicely fulfilling the basic human desire to be part of a larger, cohesive group.
For some, a lifestyle of Compreation is simply a carryover. While their choice of sport may have evolved over time, they never stopped playing—even when family and work became significantly more complex and demanding.
Others were motivated later in life—for a multitude of different reasons—to seek out a sport to play. And when they did, they discovered to their amazed delight an entire society of people very much like them.
Still others…well they just plain stumbled upon the benefits of Compreation. But however the tumblers clicked into place, the results are the same: happier, healthier people.
Over the course of my travels throughout the sports kingdom, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some tremendously vibrant people who almost universally credit their vitality to a love of their sport of choice. You rarely hear much about these folks, but to me they are the stars of Game Time For Life. They offer living proof that the label “athlete” doesn’t come with an expiration date.
In addition to focusing on unsung athletes, Game Time For Life will introduce you to people that pave the way for Compreation. Those that pair passion with business acumen to create outlets and opportunities. Those that do the logistical work needed to prepare for and produce sporting events. Those that channel their considerable energy into creating the best possible environment within the sports venues they operate. For without them, Compreation is just a word. Granted, it’s shiny brand-new word! But still just a word.
My heart, and the hearts of those that you’ll meet on this site, are in it for one reason—to further the cause of competitive play and all of the personal, social and societal benefits it provides. Is it overly ambitious to think that this site can make a difference; that we can help to pry people off their sofas for their own good? Perhaps. But that’s no reason not to try. Because we’re all in this for life.
For a sample peek into the world of Americans at play, click on the image below…