There are times when life reminds you of the place sports resides in the larger context of the world, times when you realize that there are events much larger than arguing over Shaka’s ability to coach or whether Texas has an effective offense. There are times when you remember that sports are as much a place for people to project their own emotions, problems, and pride as it is a form of entertainment. You get pushed out of the comfortable bubble where being angry at the execution of a post entry pass is a real concern and pushed into the real world where people live, they die, they struggle, they survive, and sometimes they even thrive. You’re reminded that the world can be an unyieldingly cruel bitch, a world that doesn’t care about your past issues while it piles more on you than you think you can bear. Life is not inherently fair for a lot of people in this world, and sometimes it takes seeing an avatar of youth & vibrant health being brought back to mortality for many of us to remember that the athletes we root for and against are people with entire lives we know nothing about outside of the occasional Tom Rinaldi puff piece. A lot of the young men and women we study from game to game have all sorts of personal problems they’re dealing with outside of our view; maybe it’s an upcoming exam, maybe it’s problems with their parents or partners, and maybe it’s something even more grave. We the fans don’t think about that enough; I know I don’t. So when something serious — something actually serious —hits our archetypes made flesh, we get a stark reminder that while the games matter, they don’t matter.
And yet, they obviously do matter. They matter to the teammates of the afflicted apotheosis, they matter to the coaches in charge of cultivating this singularly gifted human, they matter to the support staff and the athletic department. The game, for all its irrelevance in the larger scope of things, is supremely relevant for everyone with a personal connection to the teammate who is suddenly absent. It’s a uniquely human trait to infuse such meaning into an event that won’t heal their friend; an emotional avenue to express what that person means to them, a tribute through expended energy that won’t make a difference in their prognosis but might make all the difference in how the afflicted teammate attacks his treatment. So much of life is window dressing designed to imbue importance to those that matter. A wedding doesn’t need $40,000 in food, bands, and 100 white doves released at the end when the words are what’s important, but at the same time all of that extraneous bullshit implies the amount of work the couple is willing to go through to illustrate the importance of this union. Christmas doesn’t need a house covered in lights that are programmed to roll through a 25-minute musical number strangers can hear on 88.7 FM as they sit in their cars watching the lights with the engine and the heater running, but it helps set the mood for your own family as the kids get ready for Santa to hammer them with gifts on December 25th. We waste so much energy and time on things that aren’t meaningful, but that intentional waste of energy and time has an incredible amount of meaning in its own way.
Maybe tonight’s one-point double-overtime win didn’t really make a difference in Andrew Jones’ diagnosis. Maybe the Texas players keeping a spot warm on the bench for Andrew doesn’t matter in Andrew Jones’ prognosis.
Maybe Eric Davis Jr and Dylan Osetkowski holding Andrew Jones’ jersey as they sung the Eyes of Texas doesn’t make the chemo any more effective.
But maybe it does matter.
Maybe seeing Jacob Young repping his buddy lifts Jones’ spirits.
That was for you brother AJ1 !!! pic.twitter.com/bWXTF9o8JG— Jacob Young (@YEAHLILJ) January 11, 2018
Maybe James Banks walking back to the locker room holding Jones’ jersey up high reminds Jones of the people who care about him.
Maybe seeing his coach with tears in his eyes after the game gets Jones to fight through the dark times a little harder.
In case you weren't sure if tonight meant something to the coaches. pic.twitter.com/pAY9AkYzDh— (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻ 1115 (@Bitterwhiteguy) January 11, 2018
None of it matters.
All of it matters.
Every person who came to the game wearing a #JonesStrong shirt mattered. Every fan who took the time to make a poster about Andrew Jones mattered. They mattered in an emotional sense as much as every person who registered as a blood and marrow donor on BeTheMatch today mattered in a practical sense. It all matters to a family reeling from a terrible diagnosis, a family who watched the game from a Dallas hospital, a family that is no stranger to medical bills and hard times. They watched the game, they saw the signs, they felt the support, and they appreciated every bit of it. I know this for a fact.
Tonight the Texas Longhorns won a game, but the Texas faithful won the hearts of an appreciative family. Keep it up, Longhorns.
WHEN YOU TELL LEUKEMIA TO SUCK IT pic.twitter.com/EntD7023gh— (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻ 1115 (@Bitterwhiteguy) January 11, 2018
Next game: @ Oklahoma State on Saturday, 4 PM CT on ESPNNews.
BWG’s writing tunes provided by Christoph.