Over the past nine months, I have spent my time blogging for Huffington Post Teen about current hot topics in professional sports. Each story commented on a different aspect of the sports realm, but they all revolved around a similar motif: How sports affect the public.
It's truly incredible how sports can bring so many people together. They can draw you closer to anyone from strangers and loved ones to friends and foes. Sports have created a worldwide community where almost anyone can feel connected with one person based solely on a love and passion for a game.
Within this community, we laugh and we cry. We go to stadiums together and also crowd in people's basements to see the big game. Sports truly have a polarizing effect on people.
We debate how to assess and appreciate LeBron. We're still confused about who Tiger Woods now is. We get into countless roundabout discussions about steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. And who could forget the oh-so-popular "Who's the best NFL quarterback?" debate?
I can't even count how many times I've gotten into ridiculous fights with camp friends about sports ethics and fandom. They've accused me of being biased towards Philadelphia teams in everything I write (I really hope that isn't true) and I've argued right back in challenging their true sports knowledge. But, at the end of the day, those countless disputes have allowed me to create even stronger bonds with many people that I consider my brothers.
A few weeks ago, while riding the Amtrak Northeast Regional train from Philly to Connecticut, I was approached by an elderly man, who appeared to be around 70 years old. I was dawning a Philadelphia 76ers snapback hat and t-shirt as the team was playing the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of this season's NBA Eastern Conference semifinals later that night. The man noticed my shirt -- as I walked past him en route to the restroom, he stopped me in my tracks by muttering the simple phrase, "Hey Philly kid."
After taking a few moments to slowly inch out of his comfortable position in the traditional green-fabric coach seat, the man proceeded to tell me a 10-minute long monologue of how he used to work in the crew at the old Boston Garden that switched the basketball court into a hockey rink and vice versa. He shared little anecdotes of his interactions with Red Auerbach and showed me a handkerchief he always carries in his left front pocket that contains the signatures of various basketball greats such as Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, John Havlicek and George Mikan.
I had never met this man in my life, but after simply noticing I was a basketball fan, he engaged in a 30-minute long conversation with me about basketball history and the current NBA playoff picture. And I didn't mind postponing my trip to the bathroom at all.
Like I said before, sports have a magnificent ability to foster unforgettable memories for fans across the world. I know many people will never forget where they were when they watched their favorite team win a championship. I know there are many people who can't go a day without arguing with that one kid in the hallway or that one guy at the water cooler every day about one topic. I know I will never forget my moment with the elderly man on the train a few weeks ago.
The effect sports have on people is quite an enigma. But I guarantee you, their impact will never dwindle and their content will never disappoint.
Follow Jake Fischer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JakeLFischer