Teeing Up a Different Type of Sports Story

Bailey Gravitt shares his sports perspective with Texarkana Monthly.

While many seemed up in arms over Major League Baseball getting postponed earlier this year, there was an even more heart wrenching, more devastating tragedy occurring right under our nose. Everyone but my friend Kam and I seemed to overlook: the Justin Bieber Changes Tour was canceled! For the first time since “The Biebs” blasted onto the scene in 2010, I was finally getting my chance to see my favorite artist in person. Then, in a cruel twist of fate, I opened the Snapchat from Kam that would take this once in a lifetime chance and smash it into a million pieces. Some may think, “WOW! That seems a little overdramatic about a concert cancellation.” Yes, maybe a tad, but for just a second I would like all the sports lovers to reflect on their own reactions to their favorite sports being canceled or postponed. That may add perspective.

I know it’s second nature for most Texarkanians to be sports minded. Since birth, I’ve always seemed to value collecting every Britney Spears album over getting sweaty in the middle of a field somewhere. I tried my absolute best to do things the TK way. My grandparents still give me a hard time about flying all the way out from Georgia to see me play tee-ball as a kid. All they got to see was me walking to the tee, sitting down on the ground next to it, and waving at the crowd. Who wants to hit a ball off a tee, anyway? When the ball was kicked to me in soccer, I stared confused, then ran off the field. I still have the participation trophy from that year, though. My mom dutifully took me to basketball tryouts, and then presumably, when she saw my skills with the ball, lovingly told me I didn’t have to go back. I begged for months to play football with the guys on the playground in fifth grade. Only to be out there five minutes and the ball hit me dead on in the nose. Needless to say, I never played football again after that day.

Without that ball to the face, I may never have paid an ounce of attention to what would become one of my first loves in this life, music. Music became the soundtrack to my happiest of days and my lowest of lows. I may never have discovered that I could use my own singing voice, that I didn’t even realize was there, to communicate feelings to the world. When I found there was music that could put words and melodies to feelings I experienced, it was like the skies opened up in a way I’d never expected. I felt like a guitar in a world of basketballs.

Justin Bieber is my Michael Jordan. The MTV Video Music Awards are the equivalent of the Super Bowl in my world. I grieved Amy Winehouse’s death in the same way die hard sports fans mourn Kobe Bryant. Imagine my “TRUE Belieber’s” disappointment when I found out I wouldn’t be seeing JB perform in June. Now, as I sit here with my head hung and my Justin Bieber Beats headphones over my ears, reminiscing on what could have been, I realize I’m not the only one missing out on the events that COVID took a bat to.

Where I missed only a single concert, guys and gals who DID hit the ball off the tee back in the day, almost missed an entire season of watching their favorite sport with their dad or other loved one. It’s in baseball, or any other sport with a ball, that they find some peace and solace. After a nasty breakup, some want to sack a couple of guys on the football field to let their anger out. I want to drive around and scream a Taylor Swift song at the top of my lungs. I think my method is a little safer, but that’s just me.

All of this to say, ladies and gents, that we are all graced with our natural talents at birth. Some will just always be experts in areas that we ourselves could never master if we practiced twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for a year straight. I used to think it would be pretty dang cool to fit in with the guys in my family and have some kind of athletic talent like they all do. I finally realized that if there weren’t thousands of other people out there who can sing, there would be no one to perform the national anthem before the big game. Granted, I’ll still walk out of the room immediately after the national anthem, but I’m glad sports fans can once again enjoy the sports that follow the song. Likewise, I’m always down to watch Lady Gaga’s 2016 rendition of the national anthem, over and over again on YouTube. I’ll stick to learning Justin Bieber songs on the guitar for now, but hey, when his next tour dates come out, who’s buying me tickets? 


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