By Drew Markol, TSN Contributor - Archive - Email
Nobody asked me, but...
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Did you ever stop and just think how lucky we are?

Lucky that we have doctors and hospitals.

Lucky that we have grocery stores full of food.

Lucky that we don't have tanks rumbling down our paved roads.

Just lucky to live in the greatest country in the world.

I don't do it enough, either, and we all should. Especially now, Fourth of July week.

But since what we do here is talk about sports, let's talk a little bit about sports in America and how much fun they provide (fun provided, by the way, by all of the men and women who fought for our freedom).

We'll get to the pro stuff later, but for now just look at the real stuff. The stuff our kids do.

The ones who play sports just for the sake of playing (and not the parents who watch their kids play and dream of college scholarships and big contracts).

Go watch a Little League baseball game, or a youth basketball game, and watch the joy on the faces when they do something well.

And watch the faces when things don't go so well. The tears are real, the emotions from the heart.

Then, go and watch a high school game. It doesn't matter which sport. The talent level is better, but the goal is the same.

Win for your school and your teammates (the parents of the kids are more overbearing because the pressure of getting that nearly impossible-to-receive athletic scholarship is getting closer and closer).

It's about trying your best because that's what matters.

Go up another level to collegiate sports.

No, not to big-time football at LSU and Alabama and Ohio State. That's just a minor league for the NFL.

No, go to the Ivy League and watch Yale or Harvard or Penn play anything. They play because they've been given the chance to play. It's still real.

One of my favorite sports stories involves the Ivies and is a great example of what sports can be.

After winning the Ivy League football title a few years ago, all of Harvard's football players gathered in the end zone and sang the school fight song. In Latin.

Did any of them have visions of winning a Super Bowl title a few years later? Unlikely. It was about team. Kind of like this country. When called upon, we've stood up to our enemies and knocked them down.

Because of that, we can play Ultimate Frisbee or handball or lacrosse, ride a horse, wrestle or do mixed martial arts.

All of these kids, old and young, given the chance to do these things because they have the opportunity. Too few kids in other countries will never get that chance.

The list of sports in America that we can partake in is huge. Jeez, even another new sports, called Kronum, is available to us. Invented just four years ago, Kronum is truly an American original.

It's things like that, and all of the opportunities that we have thanks to ultimate sacrifices from so many, that make watching some of the pro stuff so disheartening.

We want to see our pro athletes care as much as we do. That old Jerry Seinfeld line about just rooting for laundry? The guy was right.

Sad as it is, even around Independence Day, too many of our pro athletes take it all for granted.

Is there anything more maddening than watching your favorite NFL team lose and then seeing your team's players laughing and joking around with the opposition at midfield one minute after the game is over?

C'mon, guys. You're lucky to do what you do. You obviously have no idea how lucky, but I do wish you'd think about it for a minute.

Think about what the others did before you. Not on a field of play, but on a field of war. And be thankful when you see our flag flying tomorrow.

Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several newspapers in the Philadelphia area for more than 25 years.

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