Julie Foudy's sports love feeds her soul

I know there are currently a lot of negative stories floating around college football, college basketball and sports in general. I know there are less than ideal role models at every sporting level. I know cheating and bad behavior have become daily topics on sports talk shows. I know, I know, I know ...

But when you just look at what has transpired with the men's NCAA basketball tournament and the women's Final Four this weekend, I am reminded (thank you VCU/Butler and Texas A&M/Notre Dame) of why I love sports. So, in honor of all the feel-good stories coming from the underdogs this past weekend and to give us a welcomed respite from the negativity that too often surrounds sports these days, I decided a healthy exercise would be to make a list of "Why I love sports." (I highly recommend it, by the way. Kinda like eating a huge, gooey donut -- it is good for the soul.) So, here it is ...

Why I love sports (in no particular order)

• When outsiders say you can't, the team says we can.

• Laughter is permitted.

• You understand that the sky is not the limit, thanks.

• We celebrate others (and life could use more of that).

• Good pain is hard to find.

• People who take shortcuts eventually finish last.

• If you believe, you can achieve.

• We discover what truly matters in the soul of a teammate.

• Sweat and tears aren't just words on a shirt.

• We can care more than others think is wise ... and cheer as loud as we dang want (important to the Loudy Foudy family).

• We beg to run through brick walls.

• We learn how to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations.

• Those moments when the world stops -- or your world stops -- to cheer, celebrate and unite for a common goal.

• Mediocrity has no place to hide.

• The smell of fresh cut grass on the field ... the smell of a gym ... the smell of my volleyball knee pads when left in my bag overnight (ohhhhhhh, not right).

• The lovely sock tan from summer training sessions.

• The euphoria after running fitness longer than you ever thought you could run (and not passing out).

• Character is molded.

• You understand that pressure is a privilege.

• Confidence follows.

• Or you learn to fake it 'til you make it.

• Hard work becomes a habit.

• Risk is indeed rewarded.

• That feeling of BRING IT ON, when you know you are fit and ready.

• The chance to kick someone and then hug them, all in the span of 10 minutes.

• You teach the butterflies to fly in formation.

• Discipline matters.

• It allows me to eat donuts.

• When you fall, a teammate will lift you up.

• Running around makes me smile (except after losing to those pesky Norwegians in the 2000 Olympics).

• I am happier when I am healthier.

• We learn that TOGETHER we are always stronger.

• Loss means growth (but it still stinks).

• It gave us one of the all-time best movie lines: "If it were easy, everyone would do it. It is the hard that makes it great."

• Adversity is welcomed.

• Teammates are friends for life (at least mine are stuck with me).

• Complacency is forbidden.

• A No. 1 next to your team name only matters when you are the last one standing on the podium.

• Dreams aren't crazy, just courageous.

• The older I get, the better I was.

That is why I love sports. You?

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