Tragedy: Looking Back while Looking Forward

As everyone who has access to any kind of media knows by now, the city of Boston suffered a great tragedy yesterday. As the injury toll continues to grow (from dozens to 40s to 80s to now a total of 176 injuries and two heartbreaking deaths), so does the outpouring of support and grief towards any victim, injured or otherwise, of such a senseless attack on a bastion of Bostonian tradition.

In times like this, where terror has been in the back of our minds in any similar situation since that September morning almost 12 years ago, emotions run high and nerves run short. Many people, including myself, use sports as a way to escape from those terrible situations, those horrible losses like those in Newtown a few months ago. The irresistible qualities of competition, sportsmanship, uncertainty and love of the game draw us into games going on, no matter what sport is being played. That couple hours of being a spectator and allowing yourself to focus on the entertainment of the players performing at the highest level allows us to block out the harsh, cruel reality that our world provides on a daily basis. But this attack, this invasion into the private world of sport that we so cherish, ruins that. There will be no Boston Marathon run for a long time that does not feel the stigma and wear the stain of the tragedy that happened on April 15. Instead of running for the cause of cancer or heart disease or personal pride or the various motivations that drive participants to put their bodies through a 26.2 mile journey, there will be countless people running in that marathon mourning the loss of their loved ones who cherished the race as much as those left behind will continue to do. That fact is inescapable.

When I started this blog a few weeks ago, I said to myself, “I’m so excited for this opportunity to spread my opinions about sports and to really open up discourse about things I know people care about.” And I will continue to do so for as long as anybody reading these posts will have me. However, I feel obligated to recognize the reality of the world outside sports as well and to put perspective on things that I see as I see them. I wish that situations like this never existed, that the countless stories of perseverance, athletic skill, and determination were the only storylines that the world would read about this annual tradition. But they do. It seems that nothing is sacred anymore. Not a simple flight from one city to another can take off without the loss of innocence and wonder at our technological advances because we have the cold, steely vise of security wrapped around the world of transportation. Massive celebrations of the pinnacles of sports achievement like the Super Bowl, the Final Four, and (highest of all) the Olympic Games are scrutinized and overseen with the focus of a hawk because of events like what happened in 1996 in Atlanta and at the 1972 games in Munich. It seems that the trust we place in the world as a child and a young adult gets broken earlier and earlier as the years progress.

For all those who are focused on “Who did this?”, you’re well within your right to ask that. Everyone wants to know who could have done these terrible things to innocent people, especially taking the life of an eight-year-old child. But please, I beg you, do not spew hate. Do not stereotype any group of people or jump to conclusions about potential perpetrators because of prior events. Mourn the lives lost and pray (or the equivalent for those not religiously affiliated) for those who were left behind and will be dealing with the aftereffects for a long time. Living with hate and malice in your heart does no good for yourself or anyone around you and doesn’t help to change the negative things you are so malicious against. Pray for a new and better tomorrow, one where these things don’t exist anymore.

Bonnie Ford, a Olympic sports writer for ESPN.com, penned an article on the tragedy yesterday. The final paragraph of that article really resounded with me and put perspective on how Boston and the country should try and recover from this act.

“Amateur marathoners push themselves for a whole host of reasons. To test their physical and psychological limits. To raise money for worthy causes. To compete. The next time this — or any — marathon is run anywhere in the world, they will run for yet another. To show that the power of communal achievement can be beaten on one day, but not on most days and never indefinitely. And that is what makes sense on a senseless day.”

Think about the journey that those runners went through before the blast, the time after the explosion, and the long hard road to recovery after the day was finished.

Again, I urge anyone reading to post your thoughts on the tragedy, my post on it, and any comments or concerns you may have. I welcome the discourse and any thoughts you’d like to share.

Bonnie Ford article (good read): http://espn.go.com/boston/story/_/id/9175969/endurance-sports-explosions-cut-core-boston-marathon

Charles Pierce article on Grantland (also recommended): http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/9176985/boston-marathon-explosion

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