“Know Your Place”
Patriot’s Day in Boston–a day to celebrate the men who fought for this nation’s freedom oh-so-many years ago. A day where the ultimate physical prowess headlines as the city of Boston’s greatest celebration: the annual running of the Boston Marathon. At 2:50 p.m. on April 15, the happiest of days was torn to pieces with the hollow boom of two pressure-cooker bombs, two cowardly instances of terrorism, two moments of unthinkable carnage. A day meant for celebration and sports (the Red Sox had played as well and won earlier in the day) turned into the worst showing of domestic terrorism since another sunny day in September 2001.
As the world watched in horror, the people of Boston, particularly those standing closest to the scene on Boylston Street, sprung into action and did all they could to help the poor souls injured in the tragedy. In the end, thanks to the work of heroic EMT’s and the Good Samaritan citizens of Boston, all but three lives were saved. Still, though, three too many died and dozens of others will now be forced to live the rest of their lives without some of their limbs.
In moments and times like this, the leisure side of life takes a backseat. Suddenly arriving five minutes late for a dinner seems trivial. A couple dollars lost in the stock market isn’t as disappointing for a trader. A parking ticket doesn’t rile an offender up like it usually does. And sports, perhaps the most common of all American leisurely tastes? They cease being a life-or-death proposition for the diehards (pardon the pun). And nowhere did we see better unity, understanding and passion than in the world of sports.
On April 17, the Boston Bruins took the ice against the Buffalo Sabres. After a moving pregame tribute, the usual national anthem singer came out to do what he always does: sing our nation’s tribute song while the fans stand with their hands on their hearts. Only this time, he was cut off pretty quickly. Within seconds, the entire stadium broke out in unison and summarily took over the song from the performer. The sound shook the ground and ran chills up the spines of anyone watching. The players on both teams loved it as our nation’s unity and will to stand together shined through.
Even fans of the New York Yankees, sworn enemies of the Boston Red Sox fans, showed their support during these dark times. Not long after the national anthem was sung by all at the Bruins game, Yankees fans belted out the lyrics of “Sweet Caroline,” the traditional Red Sox song. An illumination of the Boston “B” also appeared next to the Yankees logo at Yankee stadium, with the words “United We Stand” between them.
And less than 16 hours after the whole saga ended with the apprehension of the suspects believed to be responsible for the bombings, the Red Sox had a game to play against the Royals in Fenway Park, the Cathedral of Boston. And, once again, the world of sports proved that they “get it.” In yet another moving pregame ceremony, the team played an emotional video tribute to the victims of the past week and to the courageous law enforcement officers who took down those responsible. Then, the team brought out three people closely tied with the tragic events to throw the ceremonial first pitch—including one man who almost died from blood loss in the hospital.
Finally, to cap it all off, Red Sox legend and fan favorite, David “Big Papi” Ortiz, took the stadium microphone and spoke to the city that has adopted him. In a perfectly delivered, genuine speech, Ortiz gave the fans there that day and everyone watching around the world reassurance that, in the end, everyone in America, even Yankees fans and Red Sox fans, stand together, and that no force of evil can ever drive them apart. They were brutally honest and beautiful words from a man who wasn’t even born in this country. Yet, like so many other players, coaches and executives in the sports world had proven in the wake of the bombings, the sporting world understands its role.
Games are not life and death. There is a winner and loser. They are there to entertain. It is great to see that everyone still seems to understand that—especially during the most difficult of times.