Since its publication in 2012, Sportuality: Finding Joy in the Games has taken on a life of its own in my mind, and in the minds of its readers . I cannot experience moments, mostly within sport, without using Sportual language to define them. Friends have tagged me on Facebook with Sportual moments, so frequent during the Olympics, NCAA tournaments, and professional sport playoffs. Hey! How about those Cubs? But there are also those moments known only to a few, that can alter a life forever.
Because of my history as an athlete at the University of Michigan, and my current service on the board of the Letterwinners M Club, I also receive several Sportual stories about UM athletes…stories that don’t make headlines on Sunday, but that tug at heartstrings and take me to a higher thought about the meaning and purpose of sport. One such story involves a young boy from Grand Rapids, Michigan whose father is a friend of a friend of mine. My friend’s Sportual literacy led him to share this article about his friend’s son with me.
Long story short – young boy needs surgery out of town in Ann Arbor, and finds solace and courage in the University of Michigan football program with a connection with the punter. Get out the Kleenex! Because of their son’s combination of physical illness and fear, the boys’ parents followed their connections to UM punter Blake O’Neill. And everyone involved personally witnessed the healing power of sport.
Recall that Sportuality defines the word “health” as meaning “to make whole.” That is, to be whole in mind, body, and spirit. I love the quote at the end of the article by Jake’s dad about Jake’s healing:
“That small amount of time can end up being amazing — how it can impact and change a kid, really forever, I truly believe that,” Ben says. “Like, Jake will never forget that moment and he’ll never forget Blake O’Neill and he’ll never forget being there. The joy on his face was priceless.”
A Course in Miracles says, “Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense, everything that comes from love is a miracle.” The love that led Ben to take Jake to Ann Arbor and UM Football led him to a healing miracle of love. Sport outcomes and separations aside, Jake’s priceless joy was truly born out of love, and fueled by the vehicle we call sport.