- (Photo: Scott Lorenz)
- (Photo: Scott Lorenz)
Though Linsanity appears to have quickly died down there is no denying the effect the young star had on Americans nationwide.
Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks gave meaning and greater purpose to the world of sports, something that Jeanne Hess, the author of Sportuality: Finding Joy in the Games, believes Americans are desperately in search for.
"Jeremy Lin is the most sportual person in America right now," the nationally renowned NCAA volleyball coach said. "He inspires us because we are hungry as a nation for the soul of sport and he has brought us that."
"Lin clearly demonstrates that people need to find a greater purpose for whatever game they participate in and why we all must dig down deep to discover who we are and bring it out on the court of life."
But it isn't just celebrity figures like Lin and Tim Tebow who are breathing meaning and purpose into the games. They are simply the most public.
"There are athletes at smaller schools that are just an inspiration," Hess told The Christian Post over the phone. "We're looking for those people that are within our community that can inspire us, give us breath, hope, this idea of joy."
In her new book, the former associate college chaplain for Kalamazoo College, where she currently serves as a chair and professor of physical education, is looking to do what players like Lin and Tebow have done – redefine and change the culture of sports.
Taking words often associated with sports, like competition, community, sacrifice, enthusiasm, and victory, and redefining them to bring out new meaning, Hess hopes to transform the culture of sports into something much more positive and powerful.
One word in particular that resonated with her from the book was competition, which is normally defined as something that athletes or coaches work against.
"The violence that we're seeing in sports, the negativity, the hate, the rivalry, all of these things are fueled by this traditional definition of competition," she described.
"[But] the word competition really means to work with and so as you begin to consider the other team, the other group of fans, the other, as someone that's working with you to make you your best and that you're working with them to make them their best it's this wonderful exchange of energy that you didn't have before."
The University of Michigan graduate feels that many people look to the culture of sports to provide something in their lives that they don't already have. Things like "commitment, dedication, something greater than the self … to get beyond that ego, to get beyond the traditional me first, to look to be involved with something greater."
With the proper coaching techniques, ideas and thoughts about games and their purpose, the Detroit native shared that people could find purpose and meaning in everything that they do in addition to the sports that they play or watch.
As the mother of two professional athletes, who were both minor league players for the Detroit Tigers, Hess raised her sons to always look deeper within themselves and live purposefully.
She challenged them to give back to the community, be responsible, and inspire those who looked to them.
"Inspiration is breathing in and breathing out, giving and receiving," the former varsity volleyball player explained to CP. "The soul of sport is something much greater than me and it's something that flows through me and to others. If you take away the balls, the nets, the goal posts, the fields, sport at its essence is about learning these lessons of soul of engaging with the other."
For example, volleyball at its essence is about forgiveness, the head volleyball coach at Kalamazoo College stated.
"If you hold on to an error either your own or your teammates, your whole game is shot. So I find myself not only teaching the mechanics of the game, but ... teaching forgiveness, patience and communication. And all of the things ... are all literally the fruit of the spirit."
Raised as a Catholic-Episcopalian, Hess clarified that her book is not intended to be evangelistic though she speaks about God sometimes.
"I don't see [the book] as evangelistic but I see it as creating a change or a new conversation among those in the sport community who have charge of it together."
Though all audiences could read the book, she believes Sportuality would resonate most with athletes, parents of athletes, coaches and fans who could understand and appreciate the sports references and other related terms.
While most of the words are used within the culture of sports, however, they are also used within the greater culture.
"The power of story within words and within the sporting culture can be very powerful," she concluded. "I really believe in the power of sport and spirit together to change this culture towards more peaceful, more meaningful, less violent, and more joyful existence."
"I see sport as a metaphor for life, a way to walk the walk and talk the talk and live the journey."
To learn more about Jeanne Hess and her new book Sportuality: Finding Joy in the Games, visit www.sportualitybook.com.