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Schools of Thought: Sports giveth and sports taketh away

Mark Sahli

In the spirit of our upcoming holidays, I felt the need to ask some schools of thought regarding sports and sporting activities during the holidays.

Last month the tolerance topic definitely struck some nerves with feedback in email form and on the street conversations I had.

This month I am having conversations again and mostly with people I run into at the North Dakota State University Bison football games. Over the past five years, either during the regular seasons, playoffs at the Fargodome, or in Frisco Texas, I have run into people I have known over the years. Some of these people are old classmates, old friends, relatives, new friends and everyday acquaintances. The conversations I have obviously relate to the topic at hand and that is our beloved Bison athletics.

Once the conversation hits a lull, because we are in agreement that we think our Bison teams are awesome and there is no disagreement, the topics move to other things in our lives. Questions like “Why haven’t we gotten together lately?” or” When can we do something together again.”

The usual excuse is we are busy and one of the reasons is our children and their sports. Yes, their sports are getting in the way of everything. Dan Cole from a radio station in Minneapolis has a bit he always says: “Sports, sports, sports, is your whole life just sports?”

These sports and sporting activities do give so many of us so much enjoyment. They are fun, exciting, energizing and sometimes downright nerve-wracking. They can give everyone a chance to get away from the work world and stresses that can come with it. They also take away some of the time families, friends and relatives wish to spend together.

One particular school of thought pertains to “holiday tournaments.” When I played, we had some time off and practiced during our holiday break, but even back in those dark ages, some resemblance of holiday tournaments starting popping up.

Today it seems kids are done opening packages and families return from Christmas celebrations – of which the season is supposed to be about – and are no sooner tired of their new games, then they are instructed to get things packed for the traveling tournament they are heading to the next day.

I know many of you have the school of thought that these tournaments are fun and do involve family time together. Others have the thought that they wish they could miss that one tournament but know there is the risk of their child losing that starting job on the second grade traveling snowshoe relay team.

I am guilty as charged as we have sacrificed family time during these Bison football runs, but we also have spent family time in the car to and from Texas for four years. It is fun and enjoyable and is sports related. It definitely has given us many memories but has also taken away other enjoyable times.

Sahli is a longtime West Fargo resident, parent, coach, outdoor enthusiast, and former columnist for NDSU Bison athletics in varying publications. He can be reached at for comments and ideas.