A Stick Tap to Boston and an Ode to Sports

Image Courtesy of bruins.NHL.com

Sports are an amazing thing. Games, and the athletic culture which wraps around society as part of the 24-hour news cycle, are needed in a variety of ways. This was all too obvious over the past couple of weeks.

Sports, and the refuge it provides from the nastiness of the outside world, were a big reason that we, as a country, were able to move forward after the horrendous bombings that took place at the Boston Marathon on April 15.

My thoughts are not here to belittle what happened on that fateful Monday. Three people lost their lives in the bombings and countless others were injured. The search for the killers took another life, caused more injuries and put an entire region on lockdown. But there was one thing that was able to pull the city of Boston through their terror: sports.

There was an amazing moment that unfolded in Boston on Tuesday, when renowned anthem singer Rene Rancourt began the National Anthem on his own and then conducted the sellout crowd at TD Garden, soon to be overshadowed by the powerful voices of the Bruins faithful. I cannot lie: the singing of the Anthem pulled at my heartstrings. If you did not feel the same way, I have nothing for you.

The pregame and in-game honors which the Bruins, Red Sox and Celtics created for those who responded to the tragedy encapsulated what it means to bring a city to life. Boston was in trouble, and those teams fought for their city, even though very few players may have been born in Boston.

One athlete raised in the Hub made the ultimate compliment for Martin Richard, the young boy killed in the bombing. Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle — a native of nearby Milton, MA — wore a jersey with Richard’s age and name in practice and gave the jersey to his family.

The Boston Marathon bombings of course not only affected Boston, but the whole nation. Sports and the culture of inclusiveness it can foster, helped people overcome. I will never forget former Phillies manager Larry Bowa showing the world the a “tough guy” could cry after September 11 during the National Anthem which preceded the first Phillies home game since that infamous day.

I’ll always remember being in the stands when word came down like patriotic wildfire that Osama Bin Laden was killed, on that Sunday night almost two years ago.

So many times, sports has lifted the American spirit when others tried to beat it down. Sports will always provide an outlet and an escape. Sports is not just entertainment. Sports is not just an escape. Sports are a way of life. Sports help the healing process and the belief that for three hours, nothing else matters and we’re all in this together.