Love and sports: ?a natural bond

Valentine’s Day presents a great opportunity to reflect on the impact of love and intimate relationships in our lives. And UNC happens to be an excellent place to find a significant other.

Just ask our very own Roy Williams, who has been married to his college sweetheart for nearly forty years.

You might be surprised to know some of the parallels between athletics and the holiday.

While Chapel Hill is a magnificent place to find someone to forge a relationship with, the venue of courtship can be critical. It might take some bravado, but meeting someone at the gym could lead to a better long-term relationship than the person you took home from the bar. After all, alcohol is considered a depressant and exercise-related endorphins are proven to make you happier.

Regardless of the vehicle of introduction, sports bring us all together through a common focus. What better way to impress your trophy fratdaddy than to play with him in the upcoming basketball marathon on Saturday?

Or perhaps you idolize athletes and aspire to create a genetic offspring capable of challenging UNC’s own Mia Hamm and husband Nomar Garciaparra’s children for athletic dominance .

UNC’s Campus Recreation took a hands-on approach to promoting healthy relationships among students by organizing a Valentine’s Day Couples Challenge. Couples competed against other couples in an array of athletic and mental challenges intended to add a unique and active twist to the Valentine’s experience.

Valentine’s Day ought to evoke nostalgic memories of the appreciation of another’s company. And in the spirit of both charity and chivalry, dates with members of UNC’s basketball team were recently auctioned off for Dance Marathon.

The “Blue Steel,” famous for their sticky note prank on John Henson, which was filmed by Daniel Bolick (aka the Yellow Mamba), even managed to fetch $375.

And while Valentine’s Day is typically associated with romantic interpersonal relations, some historic moments came at the intersection of athletics and Valentine’s Day.

On Feb. 14, 1957, the Georgia state senate unanimously approved Sen. Leon Butt’s bill that barred black people from playing baseball with white people citing that it could give them a “sense of equality.” The bill’s initial passage sparked a national outrage that eventually resulted in the bill’s defeat and the rise of a more socially inclusive model of interracial athletics.

Landmark civil rights events of the past, including the desegregation of baseball, are responsible for leading to more progressive societies such as the modern UNC community.

A special “Happy Valentine’s Day” goes out to everyone who managed to maintain high enough standards to remain Valentine-less for today’s holiday.

But everyone else: Take the time amidst your intimate celebrations to think about how sports, Valentine’s Day, and your personal life are so closely and surprisingly intertwined.

Sam Ellis is a sports columnist for the Daily Tar Heel. He is a senior economics and exercise and sports science major from Chapel Hill. Contact him at

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