First, I want to address the families and friends of those victims affected by the tragedy in Connecticut and say that you will be in my thoughts and prayers throughout this holiday season. I hope that your path to recovery is filled with remembrance and healing and not regret or vengeance. I may not be a parent (yet), but I am blessed to have a wonderful family including an amazing sister and brother that I cannot fathom ever being taken from my life at a moment’s notice.
Secondly, I want to say that amongst the several unfortunate tragedies that have stricken our nation over the past year, this instance seems to me to be the most disturbing. It is so distributing because of the demographic that was “chosen” for the rampage: children and teachers. I know there have been endless articles published and news stories aired, but like everyone else, this story is so horrific that you find yourself needing to say it out loud or on paper no matter how many times you’ve heard it – no one should ever kill another person in vain, but absolutely 100% never EVER should they think about killing innocent children. It is haunting and infuriating and sickening all at the same time. Nevertheless, in the aftermath, we as the families, the friends, the neighbors, the classmates and the nation all need to come together to heal and to mend with the hope that the children who died far too young are able to prosper in a higher place and that the children who survived can somehow recover their innocence.
To that end, I have always believed that the sports world and its teams and its stars have an incredibly unique and important role to play in the recovery process. On the surface it may seem shallow and almost inconsiderate to think that sports, essentially a glorified world of organized kids games, could ever be important to a person’s, a town’s or a nation’s healing. However, to me, sports have cornered the market on a very specific niche of entertainment that fulfills a part of our souls and minds that we yearn for, especially in times of grieving and recovery: the innocence (and endless hope) of youth. Regardless of the outcome, these games do not get us closer to world peace or to a cure for cancer or even to a solution for the “fiscal cliff.” No, not at all. And, yet, these games fill our hearts and minds with bountiful hope as we cheer on our favorite teams or players and truly believe that this year is going to be our year.
Each touchdown, 3-pointer, goal or home run draws us deeper into this two, three or four hour “break” from our everyday lives where frustrations and regrets and sadness are replaced with youthful exuberance, passion and the undying hope that the “good guys” are going to win. In this way, sports acts as this unique transporter that helps us return to the glorious innocence of childhood, however brief that may be. Even at 25, as I watch a Yankees game and trade texts with my younger brother (23) I find myself having these moments where I swear I’m back in our house in Connecticut again, on the floor in the family room jumping up and down each time the Yankees hit a homer. Only sports seem to be able to deliver this glimpse of innocence and hope even in the darkest of hours.
Given this, the athletes and the teams that we love must always remember this great power of sports that they’ve been given as, like Peter Parker’s uncle famously said, with great power comes great responsibility. So it fills my heart and widens my smile when I read articles like this one on ESPN (Teams Pay Tribute to CT Victims) that talk about athletes not only paying their respects to the victims and their families, but truly embracing their roles as sports starts by briefly showing us their human-side (e.g. inviting their kids onto the court for the national anthem and a moment of silence) and then giving their all in a game to inspire us to believe that we can overcome anything.
Thus, with the latest set of tragedies, I believe it’s all the more important for the sports world to continue to march on, to continue to bring our families and towns together for a few hours of childish innocence and hope where we can all believe that today is our day.
Writer/Co-Founder of “The Drive” and a loving Brother and Son
Follow me on Twitter: @danreaves7