Russell Report: Changes in Sports

Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 6:07 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Sports may have a timeless appeal but that doesn’t mean they are immune to change.

In this week’s Russell Report, WRUF’s Steve Russell reflects on how his favorite games have changed over the years.

I have always loved sports. Always. I collected baseball cards, I played sports, watched them, and sports figures were my idols growing up. I admired how great they were at what they did. If I couldn’t be good enough to play big-time sports, I wanted to be part of it in some way as a broadcaster and that dream has come true. I’ve seen a lot come and go over a lot of years. And now we’re in the midst of a huge sea of change with things like name, image, and likeness, conference realignment, outlandish amounts of money being poured into facilities, and baseball extra-inning games starting with a runner at second base! Who would have thought? The only constant is change.

It’s easy to be jaded at all the changes in sports; the huge amounts of money athletes and coaches are making, the intense scrutiny and some would say idiocy, of some fans and how they react to winning and losing or recruiting, or whatever, on social media, and the fact that some athletes are standing up and demanding change when it comes to social issues. For some, watching sports and the athletes that play them somehow doesn’t seem the same as it was in our youth. Was I in that category?

The other night the annual ESPY Awards was on, something I have not watched much of in the past, but on this night I did, and something hit me. Look at all the great athletes in that room and what their accomplishments were and are in today’s sports world. And it hit me. Despite all the turmoil, despite all the changes, we still get to see world-class athletes perform at ridiculously high levels. They compete, they sacrifice, they succeed and fail, and sometimes we forget they too are human. When Trinity Thomas does her thing in gymnastics, when Grant Holloway blows away the field to win yet another track medal, and when Matthew Stafford can shake off the perception that he can’t win by becoming a super bowl champion, I smile. And I marvel at what these and other athletes can still do.

So next time you see or go to an athletic event, just for a little while, forget about winning and losing, and just recognize how good these athletes are at what they do and how much fun it is to watch them compete. The thrill of victory. And the agony of defeat. The human drama of athletic competition. It is a wide world of sports that I know I will try to enjoy more. Like I used to when I was a kid when my sports heroes could do anything! I’m Steve Russell, that’s the Russell Report!

“Sports Scene with Steve Russell” airs Monday through Friday on ESPN 98.1 FM and AM 850 WRUF.

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