One of the coolest parts of being a sports fan is watching unusually difficult records being broken. We’ve seen it already a few times in our lifetimes–no matter how old you are. Baseball fans saw it in the 90s–twice in one season, in fact–with the season homerun record being broken by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. And then again by Barry Bonds a few years later. Football fans saw it when Brett Favre destroyed the all-time passing yards record for a career, and they will probably see it again if Peyton Manning stays healthy. Basketball fans in the 86-87 season had Michael Jordan scoring 25 or more points per game 40 games in a row, and of course, the Bulls’ dynasty.
Needless to say, there are some really impressive records out there, and records are made to be broken. Will anyone ever beat Nolan Ryan’s 7 no hitter record? What about Emmitt Smith’s all-time rushing yards record? Probably not; no one is really close right now to either. But, there’s a possibility that it could happen. Yes, the games have changed and there are different emphases placed on other things, but there will always be these records, and ones like them, that young players hear about and strive to shoot for. Even if nobody ever does break these records, it will still create a motivation, and that is one of the seeds that can grow into a Hall of Fame caliber athlete.
Records are just a small part of what makes sports exciting. Little records get broken every season in every sport. The big ones always have hype behind them, and they are great for bringing in new fans and increasing existing fans’ excitement, but they are not the main point of the game. The main point is the daily grind, the innate athleticism that is so out of place to the ordinary person, but so natural to professional athletes. It’s why they make millions of dollars a year, and why the average person only can dream about it. It’s about competition, and being just a little bit better than your opponents on a given day, only to lose to that same team the next. It’s the drama that unfolds over the course of weeks and then months as each player and each team tries to establish themselves as the best of the best. That’s why we love sports, and that’s what makes those impossible records so awesome. They are the very best of the very best. They are the result of the best athletes in the world competing and driving each other to new heights. Because no one could ever hit 73 homeruns in a season if 70 hadn’t been the record beforehand. And no one could chase Wayne Gretzky’s all-time points record if he hadn’t had someone to pass in the first place. There are so many little things that come together to make a player great, and none of them can do it by themselves. Even Babe Ruth had competition back in the 1920s that he had to chase down.
It’s easy to forget the history of a sport because of the day to day grind, and that’s why records are an integral part of every game. Even thoroughbred racing has records. Who can ever forget footage of the 1973 Belmont Stakes as Secretariat takes the lead and then just keeps running? It’s one of those moments that gets etched in your brain and makes the current sport more interesting. The history of a sport and the records set fuel current players and set the stage for the drama that unfolds every season. One of the reasons why we love sports is because there’s always room for improvement, and there’s always something to aspire to. Even if it is to be the next athlete that kids want to be.