OPINION: What sports did for my city

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Photo credit: Seth Harper

I called St. Louis, Missouri home for six years. Good ole’ St. Louis, which USA Today named the most dangerous city in America. Crime is high and being downtown late at night can be scary. On top of that, the city is still recovering from the Ferguson riots.

A city with so many problems could only be brought together by one thing: sports. The St. Louis Blues hockey team did just that by winning the 2019 Stanley Cup last week with a march to victory that unified the city in surprising ways.

Baseball runs St. Louis, in a town where the Cardinals reign supreme. At the beginning of January, when the Blues had the worst record in the NHL, people were ready to turn their focus to the upcoming baseball season. Then Craig Berube, interim coach, inserted rookie goaltender, Jordan Binnington, into the starting lineup and the Blues started winning, a lot. The Blues miraculously made the playoffs and beat the Boston Bruins in game seven of the Stanley Cup finals.

After winning the cup, St. Louis came together like I’ve never seen before. Strangers hugged each other in the streets and despite thousands of fans flooding into bars all over the city, no arrests were made. This was followed by the Saturday celebration parade, where 500,000 people were expected to attend. The city was on cloud nine.

Sports boasts this ability to unify a city and can do the same for a college campus. I am confident it can do the same for Rexburg and BYU-Idaho. Does Rexburg grapple with the crime found in St. Louis? Of course not. The fact that BYU-I exists as predominately Latter-day Saint is a unifying factor in and of itself. Still, I often find myself wondering if we, the 19,000 students on this beautiful college campus, are missing something. Missing a unifying element that sports can bring. I find Rexburg lacks an identity that other college campuses enjoy — the chance to rally behind our classmates as they compete in sports around the country.

Bringing college sports teams back to campus isn’t simple, but until it happens, BYU-I students will be left searching for an identity. The John H. Hart Building has a wall with pictures and accolades of past Viking athletes, but we’re not exactly the Vikings anymore. Pictures of current athletes might mean a little more.

BYU-I has made incredible progress since its days as Ricks College. But without sports, we lack that great unifying force that is a hallmark of American universities: Sports.

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