Spiritual Moment into sports reflection

Nick Esposito

I went to Mass this past Sunday unaware that Father Stack’s homily would not only give me an opportunity to re-evaluate my life, but  also provide me with just what I needed for this week’s column.  

He spoke about the frailty of life.  He told us how we should be the best person we can be now because we are not sure how long life is going to last. This idea sent my mind whirling, and I thought to myself, “What should I put on my bucket list?” If I am, in fact, on my proverbial “back-nine,” I should make the most of it because I don’t have a second to lose.

I am a sports guy, and it wouldn’t surprise those who are closest to me that I would want to get lost in the crazy kingdom of sports with the time that I have left.  

I would want to make it to every Eagles game and sing “Fly Eagles Fly” until my voice went hoarse. I would want to go to the Big House to see Michigan play the hated Buckeyes. I would make the pilgrimage to Lake Placid, N.Y., the mecca of American hockey. I’d make it to Williamsport for the Little League World Series.  

I’d travel to Detroit, Hockeytown USA, to throw an octopus on the ice at a Wings game.  I’d go to the Kentucky Derby and meet the thoroughbreds, the fastest athletes in the world. I’d go to the Daytona 500 just to see what the big deal is about NASCAR and realize there isn’t one. I would have to challenge John Madden to a game of Madden. I wonder if he is any good.  

But above all, I would have to sit down and write some thank you notes to a few specific people.  I would thank Tim Duncan, Peyton Manning and Ken Griffey Jr. for being the silent heroes, for being great without drawing unnecessary attention to themselves.  I would have to write one to both Barry Sanders and Allen Iverson for being the most electric players who I have ever seen.  

I would thank the iron men of sports who fight through the worst conditions for us — the fans. I would write a note to the players who only ever played for one team and for the Charlie Hustlers who the fans knew but the box score didn’t. 

 I would have to find Michael Renberg and Nicklas Lidstrom and thank them for being my childhood heroes.

I oddly enough would thank Ohio State, the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Giants and the New Jersey Devils for making it so easy to hate them. I would love to thank the Eagles, Flyers, Sixers and Phillies for never being the team, but always being my team.

I would thank my dad for sharing sports with me. I would have to thank my mom for driving me to all of those early morning hockey practices. Lastly, I would thank my younger brother, Lucas.  He has always been my favorite player, archrival and best friend. 

 One thing that I would make sure to thank is sports, in general. Sports are the world’s only known mechanism that have successfully related and united all of the world’s cultures and races. It doesn’t matter if you’re old or young, rich or poor, fat or skinny, smart or slow, ugly or pretty; any religion, race and creed can join together when playing sports. 

I would go back to Mexico to play soccer with those orphans who broke my ankles with devastatingly impressive moves countless times. It didn’t matter that we couldn’t speak the same language because we had sports to unite us. 

When you walk into a stadium, it doesn’t matter where you come from or what you do because we all bleed the same color for our teams and immediately have 60,000 new friends.

I would spend time playing mini hockey again and play a ping-pong game to a thousand points. I would play touch football in the dark illuminated only by our cars’ headlights and the moon from above. 

I’d play pool again with my best friend and do my radio show, Sports Night, a few more times. I would talk with my friends about the good ole days in sports and our thoughts about the upcoming free agency period.

This is not supposed to sound morbid and depressing, but jubilant that I now know a few of the things that I want to do with the rest of my life.  This isn’t a bucket list, but more of a Gatorade bath of celebration. 

In the off chance that I am not on the “back-nine” and actually am just teeing off, I need to take the time and plan ahead for the future, study hard and try to learn more about the world.  

That is why I plan to practice for tomorrow and play for today.