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Monday, September 5, 2011

How Sports Has Inspired The World

It's been a decade now since the devastation of 9/11 took place, and America is still working to move forward from the tragedies that occurred that day.  On this memorable occasion, I've decided to look back at different tragedies we've all suffered and recognize the world of sports for its contributions during these harsh times.

September 11th marked the worst tragedy in American history, with nearly 3,000 people losing their lives in a single act of terrorism.  Americans all across the country watched in horror as the two massive towers collapsed and engulfed New York City in smoke and debris.  Many of our brothers stepped up and helped one another, becoming heroes that day.  Others lost their lives, their loved ones, and their sense of security and freedom.  But as we always do, Americans bonded together and overcame adversity to not forget, but to put tragedy behind us and move forward with life.  But what are the things that help us do this?  One that comes to mind...sports.

Just seven weeks after New York was devastated with the disaster, the World Series of Baseball took place with the New York Yankees playing against the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The Yankees are a team that is not liked or disliked.  You either love them or you hate them if you are a baseball fan.  But for a short period of time in October and November of 2001, nearly every person in America became a New York Yankees fan.  I remember meeting a few gentlemen in a pub during game 1 of the World Series.  They were originally from Boston and were wearing Red Sox shirts, but much to my surprise were rooting for the city of New York and the baseball team that they grew up hating.  To witness these men wearing their Boston attire and rooting for the Yankees gave me chills.  It made me realize that when it comes down to it, baseball is just a game.  In the end, we are all brothers and sisters and want whats best for one another.
The Yankees and Diamondbacks played arguably the most exciting World Series in MLB history.  The Diamondbacks ended up winning the series in seven games, but the series showed us that the city of New York will overcome this adversity and get back to normalcy.  For a brief moment, the Yankees gave the city something to cheer for, instead of mourning over the devastation.

August 29th, 2005 marked the most devastating natural disaster in US history.  Hurricane Katrina became a category 3 storm as it worked its way across central Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.  The city below sea level, New Orleans, was hit the hardest by the storm.  All in all, over 1,800 people lost their lives during the costliest hurricane in American history.  The New Orleans Saints Superdome was a key landmark that provided shelter and food for nearly 26,000 residents of the city.  In the aftermath of the hurricane, much of New Orleans was left under water, and many people left without homes.  While many people were spending energy and resources complaining about the government and what should have been done to prevent this, the world of sports took initiative to step up and help the people that were suffering.  Peyton Manning and Eli Manning, originally from the New Orleans area, used millions of dollars of their own money to load food and supplies in a plane and personally deliver the goods to the people of Louisiana.  NBA teams like the Orlando Magic visited the area and met with survivors, signed autographs, and simply spent time with the victims.  Many NFL and NBA players spent the next few years building homes in the area and donating time and resources to help rebuild New Orleans.  Then four years later, the New Orleans Saints went on to win the Super Bowl over the Indianapolis Colts.  A team that had never played in a Super Bowl, or really ever had a successful track record of winning, overcame all odds and lifted a city to the highest peak of enjoyment in the sports world.

Watching the Japanese Soccer team win the championship over USA was bittersweet.  After a massive earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown at a power plant in Japan, the country seemed to be on the brink of disaster.  The storm claimed over 15,000 lives, making it one of the deadliest disasters in the world.  The Japanese soccer team brought hope back to their country and gave the natives reason to cheer as they dominated the playoffs and won the championship in thrilling fashion.

There are many obstacles in our daily lives that create adversity and cause stress.  Sports has become one of the greatest outlets for this stress, giving us something to get excited about.  Some great sports movies that come to mind are "Invincible" and "We Are Marshall".  These movies depict the struggles Americans go through, and how sports teams are there to lift our spirits when all hope seems lost.

A sport can provide inspiration in our lives.  No matter what sport you are a fan of, you can use it to give you a sense of fulfillment and an escape from your everyday problems.  There aren't many things out there with this type of power.  When times get tough, athletes and sports teams are always there to lend a helping hand.  Sports can make us forget about problems we have going on at home or at work. And just when it seems we're at the end of the line in life, our favorite team will pull off an amazing victory and bring joy to our lives, only if for a few a hours.  That's a pretty powerful thing!

1 comment:

Andy Gines said...

Very well said Vince. I can remember so vividly each tragedy within the last decade and how it impacted me. 9/11/01 brought out the most evil in humans but also showed how humans triumph over evil.

As the 10th anniversary approaches, I often think of the many heroes of 9/11. But one has always stuck out to me the most. Welles Remy Crowther. I happened to catch the story ESPN ran on him this weekend and again was so truly inspired by his compassion, courage, and ultimate sacrifice. "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13. Welles Remy Crowther "The Man with the Red Bandanna" lived this verse to the very end. I thank you Welles for being one of my heroes. You will never be forgotten.