SPORTS: What is sport without passion?

A COUPLE OF weeks ago, the Peninsula College men lost a heartbreaking match to Tacoma on penalty kicks.

Not just penalty kicks, but even more dreaded and dramatic — added penalty kicks.

Several of the men broke down in tears, some had to be helped up to their feet.

It genuinely was heartbreaking. These guys had poured their hearts and souls on the field for over two hours to lose in the cold and the twilight after a 12th penalty kick.

Someone who is a much bigger expert in soccer than I told me the sport is a game of emotion and passion, that certain teams play with flair, others are more machine-like. I don’t watch enough soccer to know what exactly he’s talking about; I’m more of an expert in the sort of passion that comes into play in hockey — you know, the Bob Probert and Tie Domi kind of passion — but I certainly took to heart what he was trying to tell me.

So, after a couple of uncomfortable minutes of just wanting to give the men their space to let out their grief, I thought it was OK, really. It didn’t bother me, nor should it bother any of us.

One of the unhealthiest things people do to themselves is hold their emotions in. And maybe these guys wouldn’t be such good soccer players if they held their passions in check.

Drive to achieve

So, what are sports if they’re not a source of passion? Every athlete gets sore, every athlete hurts (Oh, dear, I’m almost quoting an REM song), every athlete has doubts and “doesn’t feel it” some days. But, something keeps pushing them forward.

Here’s the best I can personally relate. I used to mountain-climb and I’ve kept going uphill when I was seriously hurting, when I saw clouds on the horizon that spooked me a bit.

And when it was so cold, it froze my energy bars to the hardness of a brick, when the rangers warned me the winds on the ridgetops were pushing 60 knots, when old frostbite on my hands was flaring up, when on a 14,250-foot-high peak in California, I started spitting up pink, frothy phlegm (that’s a symptom of something interesting called HAPE). And I kept going uphill, even with the beginnings of HAPE, because the top … was … right … there.

People would tell me that either A) You’re an idiot or B) You’re out of your mind. It was hard to explain to people who don’t climb. The funny thing is, people who DO climb absolutely understand it. I had to make it to the top. The challenge of making it to the top, to push myself and most of all push myself past the boundaries of what I thought my body was capable of, that’s what drove me. That’s a form of passion.

I will be honest and say I don’t get all sports, in particular I don’t get wrestling, the wrestling coach at my high school kept trying to get me on his team. He even showed up at my house one day recruiting me. But, I was determined not to join the wrestling team. It’s hard, it’s physical, it’s grueling, it’s downright painful. It’s work. It’s bloody noses and scratches and nasty abrasions. So, to the kids who choose to wrestle, that to me is the definition of passion. More passion than what I had as a kid. And I respect that. It’s not a high-profile or glamorous sport, it won’t get you on the front page of the Seattle papers, so something has to drive you to do it.

Something hard to define and hard to explain. You could call it passion.


Sports Editor Pierre LaBossiere can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or

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