“With music, you can’t lose.”
For years, I used this statement to argue that music is better than sports. My dad, who works as the sports information director for a Division II college, never looked too far into the lie that I continually prodded him with over the past few years. From my perspective, the World Series is his Woodstock; or, in his perspective, the Vans Warped Tour is my March Madness. We’re fanatics in our own ways, except I’m starting to even out my passion into a two-fold: I’m about just as obsessed with sports right now as I am with music.
In fact, I probably love sports just as much as he does currently. And I came a long way.
I grew up a big sports fan because of my dad. Sure, I could go on with the same cliched story of my dad playing catch with me when I was young. And yes, I played baseball for seven years growing up. But my view of sports came from a different angle. When I was nine years old, he put a baseball scorebook in front of me one night and taught me how to keep score of a Kansas City Royals game on TV. From then on, I’ve never looked back.
Years went by and I filled notebooks full of team rosters, whether it was the 2005 Duke men’s basketball team, or the 2007 New York Giants. At one point I could name the entire starting lineup for every MLB team. But as I began to progress my interests, I realized that I couldn’t compare sports statistics with anything in music. To me, music reflected more of a positive feeling than anything. An album was always there to make me happy, but liking a sports team like the Royals was painful year after year. I couldn’t relate to the players or their batting averages and what those meant. And the offseason was bittersweet; there was no baseball, but there also wasn’t any losing.
As I became the “music guy” around the beginning of the current decade, I began to hold my love for rock, punk, and metal as something sacred — so sacred that it was better than other people’s sacred things. Sports were always sacred to me, but I thought of it as pointless circle that never remains constant, despite how contradicting that may sound. That’s when I began to argue with my dad that sports aren’t as great as music.
And it’s because I lost so much growing up. I witnessed one winning season by the Royals until last year when they won 86 games and still missed the playoffs. I witnessed five winning seasons by the Chiefs, with no playoff wins. I witnessed Kansas State lose four bowl games (and don’t even get me started on the end of the 2010 Syracuse game), and I witnessed Kansas lose to Bucknell, Bradley, Northern Iowa, and VCU in basketball. And playing sports was just as painful. I played on a losing baseball team six out of seven years, and I never made it onto my varsity cross country or track teams in high school. Or the baseball team.
Eventually, I was just tired of losing, and that saying kept popping into my head. “There’s no losing in music,” I would say to myself as I popped on Deja Entendu and flooded my headphones with tear-jerking pop-punk hymns. Brand New was always there for me when I was sad. But when the Chiefs blew a 28-point lead in the second half to the Colts in this year’s NFL Playoffs, everything was empty. I was so angry at sports that I told my dad I was done watching games — at first (I eventually cooled down).
What once meant everything to me meant nothing. I thought sports were constantly letting me down, while music never did. More or less, I saw sports in a lifeless way, and that couldn’t have been further from reality.
But the memories began flooding back of all of the life within sports. Baseball was a game of heart since I was young. In seven years, I played on one winning team, but I remembered that season. I remembered the comeback in the playoffs, when my team was losing 8-2 in the final inning, only to score seven runs and win. That’s something beyond statistical analysis. That’s beyond the way I looked at the game — through the eyes of that young scorekeeper. That’s true human beauty.
True human beauty is going to a Royals game with your family during the dusk of summer, and first baseman Mike Sweeney waving to you from his car on your way home. That moment outweighs all of the losing seasons. Moments like that kept me at ease. There’s nothing more amazing than the feeling that something is okay. And just like music, sports are always okay. I just didn’t know that until now.
So I’m sitting here letting this year’s NCAA Tournament waste away, because both Kansas and Wichita State lost in the Third Round. Following both losses, I felt upset (especially seeing a cheater like John Calipari win again). But I will prevail, since sports are always just games. My dad has told me that a lot recently. Sports are his life, and he is strong enough to know they’re just games at the end of the day. The Shockers will start their season at a sold-out Koch Center in 2014, and that great feeling will return. Just being able to witness these games should be enough, but we always want to win. And we can’t always win.
The same can be said about music, too. Recently, I realized that my saying couldn’t have been further from the truth. Music has its losers, too. Yes, A Day to Remember succeeded, but what about the other hundred bands that mixed pop-punk and metalcore that didn’t? What about the bands that didn’t survive the road? The breakups? The bad reviews? I know I’ve written some from time to time. And I had to — if I only wrote good reviews, then it would be pointless to write reviews at all.
Music is full of just as much loss as sports, whether I want to think so or not. It seems to easy to just pick and choose what I like and ignore the rest. But that doesn’t mean it’s not there.
The great albums always remain; they are moments suspended in time. But so is that Mike Sweeney wave. So is that shot by Mario Chalmers in 2008. And so is the inside-the-park home run I hit in the same year. They all meant something to me. I hold them close to me just like I do Tell All Your Friends on a breezy summer evening (man, Taking Back Sunday is the bomb). And I can’t let all of the horrible things detract from the great things. I can’t pretend like loss doesn’t exist, but it’s just important than I don’t let it get me down.
Life is full of both winning and losing. No one is a complete winner and no one is a complete loser, and that’s because we’re all imperfect. But it’s okay, because we are all saved in that essence. We are always allowed to start new. We’re always left knowing that the phoenix is full of more beauty than anything in the world, because rising from those ashes is always greater than not rising at all. It’s an intensely powerful feeling.
Sports and music both hold a profound beauty. They’ve all meant something to me during my lifetime. In fact, they’re probably the two most meaningful passions in my life. And just like any passion, they’re keeping me on my toes. And I can’t wait for what’s to come.
Editors Note: Go Gators!