Exactly 80 years ago today, Lou Gehrig made one of the most famous speeches ever when he told a crowd at Yankee Stadium he considered himself, “the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
It was only fitting that he gave that speech on America’s 163rd birthday because now, on our great nation’s 243rd birthday, many of us ought to feel the same way as Gehrig did when his jersey number was being retired by the Yankees.
Gehrig was battling a disease that was eventually named after him but despite his illness, he believed there was no one luckier than he and we ought to feel the same way. I know I certainly do.
Granted, I’ve never suited up for a professional sports team and the opportunity to ever have my jersey number retired never presented itself but I can truly appreciate the opportunities this great nation has given me.
I’ve said in my column repeatedly that when I was a kid, I dreamt of playing professional sports. I wanted to take that winning three-pointer, hit the winning grand slam or throw the winning touchdown pass but at some point, reality sunk in and I realized that was never going to happen, so instead, I chose a career to allow me to write about sports – something I can’t get just anywhere.
I can’t exactly consistently write about America’s pastime in just any country outside of America. We all know football is king in Texas and furthermore, America, and therefore, making a career of covering the gridiron game wouldn’t be the same (probably not even possible) in any other country.
When I hear of other people moving overseas for whatever reason, I tell myself I would love to visit but I don’t know that I could make a country other than America my home and one of the reasons for that is I want to be able to watch American sports. Sure, I might be able to catch a game or two once in a blue moon but that wouldn’t be enough to satisfy my passion for sports, not to mention, in another country, I’d likely have to find a different career.
There is definitely a sadness that I legitimately feel for people living in other countries whose lives don’t have the memorable moments that only sports can provide. I feel bad for someone not able to watch the Super Bowl or fill out a bracket during March Madness. It saddens me that the passion and excitement I feel from watching games isn’t part of the lives of others, or even available to them.
As crazy as it sounds, when I hear about someone who dislikes or hates sports, I don’t believe it because I can’t fathom what’s not to like. My belief is they haven’t given sports a real chance, and for those outside the United States, the chance hasn’t been provided for them.
At any rate, I believe the world of sports is one thing that makes this nation great. While cheering on our teams, it doesn’t matter what the political party is of the guy next to you. You don’t even think to ask the girl in front of you what her religious beliefs are because in that moment, we’re united by a great sport in a great country.
Today, we celebrate America’s birthday, and it’s hard to not feel like the luckiest man on the face of the earth.