I was planning to write a Weekend Wrapup today. I was planning to talk about Kobe and Tiger and Tianlang Guan and Adam Scott and Hiroki Kuroda, who threw a shutout for the Yankees on Sunday night.
But it suddenly feels like so little of that matters.
If two bombs had gone off in two random garbage cans in Boston on any day other than today and in any spot other than on Boylston Street, then it would be a pretty serious story, but not a sports story. ESPN may not have broken into regular programming to talk about it. But because of the where and when, sportscasters became news anchors and ESPN and SI’s front pages were dominated by AP photos and copy. ESPN linked to a video of President Barack Obama’s remarks. Sports journalism suddenly became just plain journalism.
But as the crisis passes, we’re left with the remains. After the shock and horror of the actual event and our visceral, gut reaction comes the pain and heartbreak for those who are left behind. For those who were wounded, for their families and the families of those who died, for the first responders, police, EMT’s, and doctors who had to witness the carnage and death firsthand, there’s so much to process, to come to terms with.
Sometimes you need a distraction, something to take the pain and anguish off your mind for just a while. There are as many kinds of distractions as there are people, but for a great many of us, the distraction is sports. So notes Buster Olney of ESPN, one of America’s best and most thoughtful baseball writers.
These sentiments have been echoed in countless interviews with athletes since. But even the distraction can’t escape the gravity of events it is supposed to be an escape from. The Red Sox, the only Boston team in action the day after the tragedy, wore black arm, as did their opponents, the Cleveland Indians (managed by former BoSox skipper Terry Francona) Meanwhile, their hater rivals, the New York Yankees, showed support for their hated rival.
That’s right, it says “United We Stand” with Boston outside Yankee Stadium, where “Sweet Caroline,” a Fenway fan favorite, played over the loud speakers after the third inning. Who would have ever imagined such a display? In times of tragedy, when humanity visits the worst of itself upon others, sports gives us an opportunity to show the best of ourselves. Amid all the accusations and recriminations, sport seems to be the most positive thing out there right now. At least it’s whats bringing us together.
So maybe those things, and all the sports stories happening today, do matter after all.