Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Perspective on Putting Sports in Perspective

   As I have written here in many different forms before, and will no doubt do more of in the future, I loathe the phrase, "puts sports into perspective". This phrase was in noxious overuse this weekend because of the tragedy in Paris. Despite what horrors all of us witnessed that Friday night wherever we witnessed them, tragedy doesn't beget life, which as cruel as it sounds does go on whatever grief we are stricken with.

  Sports is not only a fantastic coping mechanism, but a great way of reminding ourselves that life will go on no matter what may have changed because of tragedies along the way. France's secretary of sport said to the AP recently that this weekends Ligue 1 games will be played (albeit without traveling fans) because, "life must go on" and that calling the games off is "exactly what these barbarians want". Without mincing words, Thierry Braillard nails the sentiment that I'm surprised more people haven't championed: sports are evidence of normal life, and often times can be the indicator that life will move on after tragedy.

   On September 21, 2001, the Mets hosted the Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium. This was the first professional sports game to be played in New York City since 9/11, and no matter what impact on the standings there was for the game, it was a sign to New York and the world that even after the deepest and most horrible tragedies, and despite the fact that the world and our lives would forever be different and changed, life is going to go on whether we want to be scared or not. It took quite a bit of gumption for New Yorkers to try to stop grieving, even for three hours and remember why living in New York and being a New Yorker is so special, and the Mets playing at Shea Stadium did just that.

   So yesterday at Wembley with France playing England, despite the remembrances, moments of silence, wreaths laying on the pitch and attempts at 90,000 trying to sing La Marseillaise, soccer was an attempt at reminding the world that life will go on. Even with the Belgium/Spain and Germany/Netherlands friendlies being called off for security reasons, watching France and England, enemies in history and the butt of each others jokes on most other days, so many of us could be reminded how powerful sports are as a coping mechanism and a reminder that life will go on whether we're grieving heavily or not.

  Each of you reading this probably has your own story about how sports helped you cope with tragedy in your personal lives, because even when sports do stop to pause and grieve with everyone, at some point they will pick up again as a sign that life moves on, and that we should all do the same too. On that day, even if the phrase "putting sports in perspective" means something to you, for one brief moment you will believe that sports was the first sign to you that it's time to move on. It has been for me on many an occasion, and that feeling isn't unique to just me.

  I've written this column in many different forms in the past, and as I mentioned off the top I'll probably do it again someday after another tragedy that shakes the world to its core. But remember that whatever sports means in a macro sense to the world, on a micro level they will go on, and remind all of us that life moves on too even after as something as tragic as the events in Paris last Friday night.

  "The show must go on" and the show will go on, but in this case the game will go on, and help us remember why we all can't live life in fear.

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