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.