The Meaning Of Sports To Me

By Jeremy McDonald

As we enter the State Championship week and seeing fan bases celebrate their teams making it to the ‘Big Game’, this makes me remember 10-plus years-ago for me when sports ended for me.

As a former athlete, sports probably met more to me than some only because the two-and-a-half hours out on the gridiron every fall was my escape from my dad’s binge drinking from the passing of my mom and sister when I was very young.

Like before I was four-and-a-half-young.

Some days it was a-ok, others was a absolute hell.  Was it anyone’s fault?  No.

After a while, I learned it wasn’t my fault, my younger brothers fault nor those older than mine.  I knew it was a test to me.

But Sports was more than running a ‘hitch-route’ or ‘slanting-in as the whip blitz’ (I only played football growing up as a receiver and defensive lineman), it meant escaping what my world was outside of textbooks and getting my head smashed in for hours-on-end (I was 5-foot-seven-on  good day at about 170 tops facing guys 6’2, maybe 320 pounds on some days on the line).

I never told anybody because I didn’t want the truth to be floating around while I was in High School, I saw too much crap happen already that I didn’t want anymore to happened.  Maybe a regret, maybe not, I don’t know.

Sports however meant more to me personally as a escape that I rather spend two-plus hours every Friday Night as a back-up maybe seeing two-three-plays-a-game-tops than sitting at home seeing what I was seeing a few times before.  It wasn’t worth it to me.

While some were worrying about if they’ll start or who they’ll be taking to Homecoming,  I was worried what I came home to after practices, games, dances.

Like I said,it meant nothing.  Like 80-percent of it meant nothing, but I was always worried about that 20-percent.  Those 20-percent was worrisome to me at 16-,17-years-old.

What made me think of sharing this part of my personal story?  Hearing people talking about other High School team’s like their favorite Professional Teams.  College Teams even because they won.

My message is this:

Think before you speak.

This is because as I saw Bend defeat Crater (the team/School I went to High School at and played football with) my senior year in 2006, I knew one of my escapes from my personal life was taken away from me forever by a better team and had I seen some of these parent/fanbases comments on social media then (hypothesizing with what we had in 2006), I would’ve lost control because I’m taught to be respectable win or lose.  To hold our head up high.

To see some parent/fans say some things as they are, degrading other teams unintentionally or not, it echoes more home to me than most sports journalist just because how much sports meant to me growing up in San Jose and in the Medford area; it’s sad to see from my end as a former athlete.


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