Sport is about as old as human interaction itself. We have always measured ourselves and each other through physical competition. It’s a distraction as well as an end. Today, we have raised sport up to a refined and lucrative professional activity, that is central to our communities. Sport is one of the ways that we express emotion together in public, which is a very important exercise. Such is the power of sport that it can be turned into a terrible political weapon with disastrous consequences. We have all seen the results of politicised sport. Hitler was expert at making sport into an aesthetic weapon to deploy against his enemies. But it backfired on him, and the truth and beauty of real sporting competition revealed itself in the 1936 Olympics when Jesse Owens, the under dog, won the 100 metre race, and Hitler refused to shake his hand because he was black and therefore ‘sub human’. Hitler couldn’t make his racial theories true when it came to sport, where the best athlete always wins.
The Olympic games is one of the biggest and most important instances of global human interaction, where we all come together as equals and compete. The glory and beauty of sport is as plain for the spectators as it is for the athletes, who rejoice or lament together over triumphs, bravery, effort, and human struggle. Sport becomes a way of testing ourselves, under the comforting constraints of parameters and rules that aren’t to be found any where else in life. Everyone has their own special memories of a sporting occasion, even if sport isn’t a part of our every day lives, because sport is one of the ways that we celebrate together. It’s a way that we connect, in every culture. Think about some of the biggest communal days of the year, outside of religious holidays (in many ways, sport is a modern stand in for religion); they are days like the Super Bowl and Grand Final day.
That is where sports memorabilia comes in. High quality sports memorabilia helps us to commemorate and celebrate those happiest and most precious sports memories by making them part of our daily lives. Like all nostalgia, sports memory nostalgia helps us to enjoy our daily lives by accessing past times of joy and excitement and remembering them as examples of how nice life can be. We can use these sorts of things to connect to others, by showing what we’re interested in. Sports stars or sports awards that have a noble and fair or brave character become inspiration to us as ways to live, and sport goes well beyond pure physical ability in that sense. The ‘sporting spirit’, a little bit of which is distilled in every piece of sports memorabilia, is something that we like to think that we live by.