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Ken Medlin

When sports bring people together

Posted April 17, 2013
Updated April 18, 2013

There are times when sports can bring people together. Sports can unify communities, cities, states and even nations. We are living in one of the more unfortunate examples of those times.

Boston's pro teams were right to postpone games in the horrifying aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing. Now they are right to begin playing again, giving the people of that embattled city a chance to return to normalcy.

The scene at Boston's TD Garden Wednesday night was one of the most powerful we'll ever see in sports. The Boston crowd simply took over the national anthem, delivering a thunderous rendition that would bring chills to even the most cynical among us.

That moment had to be cathartic for a city in pain - a chance to let raw emotion take over in a release of tensions too great for any community to bear. It was both angry and hopeful, simultaneously proud and reverent.

And it was real.

The crowd at the Garden - if not an entire city - needed that moment. And then they needed to escape for a few hours, to get away from the grim reality still so fresh in the nation's mind.

At their best, sports allow us that chance, the chance to immerse ourselves - whether as players or spectators - in the thrill and drama of the spectacle unfolding. We play for the fun of it. We watch for the thrill of it. And for a few short moments, we slip away from whatever problems this short life can bring us.

Sometimes we lose sight of this - falling into the trap of My Team vs Your Team, obsessing about coaches' decisions and referees' calls. But the essence of sport is the capacity to entertain. Boston needed that. America needed that.

The images from the Boston Marathon will be stamped in our memories for a generation. And they should. They should stand as reminders of what can happen when we drop our guard, and they should also stand as reminders of just how privileged we are to live in a free society.

But let's also remember the images from two days after the bombings - the scene at the TD Garden when thousands of fans began the process of healing.

That's what sports can help us do.

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  • NothingButNet Apr 18, 2013

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    Agree about the gesture by the Sabres. Their fans (Sabres)usually deserve any grief we give them, but in this case the Sabres' players showed a lot of class, illustrating we're all one nation united, showing support for Boston.

  • VT1994Hokie Apr 18, 2013

    Very well written Ken. You hit some great points.

  • caniacman Apr 18, 2013

    That anthem was unreal!! Also really cool that the Sabres after the game stayed out and tipped their sticks to the Boston fans, that was very cool!! We here give the Sabres a lot of grief, but they deserve a shout out for that!

  • StunGunn Apr 18, 2013

    Great article, Ken, and I do agree that sports to bring people together and start the healing process. But for all the bravery and solidarity Boston is showing, as a nation we've never really healed completely since 9/11, and our children will never have the feeling of safety and security we had as children, and that's sad.

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