Sport: an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.
This definition doesn’t change as you move up from high school to college, and even to the professional level. However, the inner meaning varies quite a bit.
You see, I am an avid lover of almost all sports at any level of competition. I have watched sports at all levels many times throughout my life and it just seems the higher the level, the less pure the game becomes.
Now, there are numerous reasons why this is the case, and the biggest reason is that the amount of passion of the athletes decreases the higher the level of competition they reach. This certainly doesn’t apply to every athlete at each level, but it seems to be an overarching theme.
For example, in the NFL, you have the case of former Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell. Bell was willing to sit out a whole season of football to avoid injury for a potential record-breaking contract.
While the decision works for his goals of trying to gain leverage, it doesn’t display a whole lot of passion for the sport of football.
In college football, you have the case of high-profile football players sitting out their bowl games to prepare for the draft. In college basketball, you have the case of players, such as Univeristy of Arkansas’s Daniel Gafford, sitting out the National Invitation Tournament because it’s not the NCAA Tournament and they want to preserve their bodies for the NBA draft.
Now, I understand why these players are making the decision that they are, as the potential for excessive amounts of compensation for reaching the professional level is very crucial for the athletes and their families.
Of course, college sports are purer than the pros as well.
You don’t have college athletes sitting out for better pay, even though they all feel they should receive compensation for the amount of time they spend on their sports. Not to mention how branded they are while receiving none of the benefits.
However, you just don’t see high school athletes sit out their last few basketball games, or their final soccer games just because they already have high-level scholarships. And for as much love as the athletes have of playing college sports, it’s not enough love to play those final games.
Therefore, the reason high school sports are the purest is because of their passion for the sport and the love for their teammates. They simply love to compete. These athletes want to represent their school well and win the game or match that they’re competing in at all costs.
On top of that, you don’t have all the talk about whether high school teams should tank for better draft picks, or whether the athletes competing are secretly paid by the coaches or not to come to their university (at least, not for the most part).
You see, in high school, the sport is just about the sport. The athletes are all about doing what it takes to win.
And that’s precisely how it should be.