By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Apr 07, 2015 at 8:56 AM Photography: David Bernacchi

I was so wrapped up Wisconsin’s game against Kentucky Saturday night that it moved me to want to share all the excitement and, of course, the way you share things these days is on social media.

I was a Twitter and Facebook fanatic after Wisconsin’s victory. It was one of the greatest games, of any sport, that I’ve seen in my life.

Coasting around the two big social media sites, I shared the overwhelming sense of joy that I saw from people all over the country. It was hard to find a superlative to match the previous superlative.

In the middle of all this, however, I did see some comments about how silly all this excitement seemed in light of all the problems facing this country.

I was struck by one thread talking about how people were being killed, especially by police, while we all were busy cheering for a college sports team.

Here’s a quote from the Facebook thread.

"Meanwhile, cops are killing people all over the city. first it's fun to be out and just observe people peripherally lose their minds over this stuff, but then after awhile it just feels really sad."

I had to shake my head at this particular thread.

I know the guy who started it a little bit and I have a lot of respect for him. )I’m not going to name him because that’s not the point.)

The point is that he is guilty of a serious miss on the value of things like sports excitement in this world. He is obviously trapped in one of those either/or cauldrons where people feel they have a monopoly on correctness.

I want to try and explain the immense value of sports in a world teeming with tension.

One thing that should be clear first is that any excessive fanaticism is not a good thing. Take a look at those hooligans at European soccer games for example. So don’t go throwing that back in my face.

For most of us, sports is a chance to do so many things:

  • We can move out of whatever humdrum fills our lives.
  • We can find alliances in places that are unexpected.
  • We can share joy and sorrow and anticipation and patriotism.
  • We can yell at the top of our lungs.
  • We can hug perfect strangers of any gender.
  • We can all agree that the only color that matters is that of the uniform.
  • We can all take a break -- from life -- at the same time.
  • We can think we know more than we actually do.
  • We can get more excited than we thought possible.
  • We can hold our breath longer than we thought possible.

We can do all of those things, and what’s more, we can come out of those moments, those shared times, reinvigorated to fight all the other battles that remain in our lives.

It hardly matters what those battles are. It can be a personal battle or a global one. It can be figuring out a way to make the streets safe for everyone. It can be making sure that we teach everyone who has a gun to think first and second and shoot third.

We can do so many things and do them without fear of being worn out. We may find opposition to much of what we try to do. Allies in sports may well be opponents in life.

But to suggest that there is something wayward about all our excitement and that by getting so deeply into it we are ignoring the "serious" stuff in the world shows very little understanding of the nature of sport and the devotion of fans.

Nobody I know thinks that the cheering gets them off track from the rest of the world. Sports is part of the world. Important, yes, but nobody thinks it’s critical.

What it is, is fun. 

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.