Aurora, CO. Tragedy and sports in our society – what is the connection? It seems as if it takes something awful to happen for many to be inspired by our individual sports heroes. Aurora was the scene of a horrific tragedy last Friday as one man killed 12 and injured over 70 others in a movie theater during a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie.
Sports allow an escape from the every day trials and tribulations we all experience. After 9/11 we all took pause, including major sports at the time. Baseball took a brief respite allowing the country to grieve and heal and came back with a flurry of flags, patches and NYPD hats in New York. Mike Piazza put a charge into the New York area with a monster walk off home run to give the Mets a victory in their first game back after 9/11.
Hurricane Katrina left a city and a nation to mourn and question why? The Superdome went from a place of competition and celebration to a place of survival and death. Recovery from Katrina was slow and the country questioned the efforts of the state and federal governments. When the New Orleans Saints returned once the Superdome was repaired and safe, the country watched as the Saints took the field in dedication to the citizens of New Orleans.
Now in Colorado, we grieve again after a madman took the life of 12 of our citizens. Heroic victims covered others in the theater and gave the ultimate sacrifice to save others – their lives. The Colorado Rockies still took the field that day with heavy hearts. Players wore black arm bands and eye patches with 7-20 sketched on them. In solidarity, the Rockies stood arms locked on the third base line before the national anthem to bow their heads in a moment of silence to remember those lives that were lost. A black jersey inscribed with “WE REMEMBER 7-20” hung in the dugout and will continue to hang in the dugout this season.
As I write this article my heart is filled with sadness and anger that another tragedy has taken place in our great state. Many flashed back to April 20, 1999, when two gunmen took the lives of 12 students and 1 teacher at Columbine High School. Why has this happened again? Could stricter gun laws have prevented another terrible incident in our state? Probably not.
What is the responsibility of our sports teams in times of tragedy? After the wildfires this year in Colorado, all the major sports teams generously donated money to help victims of the fires. Denver Broncos players visited survivors of last Friday’s theater shooting. Peyton Manning placed phone calls to survivors giving his well wishes and encouragement. The Denver Nuggets are wearing special headbands to pay tribute to the victims and survivors.
We all look to our professional athlete heroes to do more when tragedy strikes, but is it their job to make us feel better? Is it sports job to heal? I do not feel we should expect players and teams to go above and beyond to help heal the public in times of horror, but let’s all take time to appreciate the efforts they do choose to partake in. We can all take a lesson from these efforts and look at what we can do as individuals to mirror what our sports heroes do to help the public. Volunteer at a children’s hospital, shake the hand of a soldier, thank a police officer or fireman for their work to keep us safe. Look at your everyday life and take pause to think what you can do today to make this world a better place today and in the future.
Sports do heal by giving us fans a chance to forget the woes of the world for a few hours and to dream we were on the field or court doing what professional athletes do on a daily basis. Outside of those few hours we can lose ourselves in watching a game, we need to lean on each other as friends and family members to heal and understand when the devil bears his face in our world.
Denver Sports Chat gives our thoughts and prayers to the victims of the shooting last Friday as well as those who lost their homes during the wildfires this summer. As the Rockies simply put it, “WE REMEMBER”. Please, not only think of the victims of the most recent crime we all witnessed the carnage of, but take time to look back at other tragedies and work everyday to try to prevent Colorado from ever being scarred again as we all were last Friday.
Denver Sports Chat – Kris Loco