The 2 sides of sports: Athletics in the wake of Boston -

The 2 sides of sports: Athletics in the wake of Boston

( -- Last week showed us everything that sports can mean.  It has always held a double-sided appeal. From the simple joy of competition to deeper storylines, professional athletics can be a pleasant distraction as well as an examination into the agony of defeat and heroism coupled with incredible teamwork.

Sports have always had the ability to bring people together and to fuel our local and national consciousness. We love to cheer for our own teams, and hold a healthy dislike for rivals and opposition.  Boston is usually among the top of our list.  It has always been easy to cheer against Boston, (even if you are not from New York and know all about the curse of the Bambino).  The seeming arrogance of the Patriots, the heavy spending of the Red Sox, the multiple rings from the Celtics, the long tradition of the Bruins or the winning ways of the Revolution (especially if you are a NY Red Bull fan) established Boston as a great sports town with great teams we love to see lose.                   

But this last week, our rivalries seemed petty.  We were horrified by the tragedy at the Boston Marathon where three people lost their lives (four including the young officer shot at MIT) and more than 170 were injured, some seriously.  As the week wore on, while the tragedy was still fresh, we rooted for Boston to “win” as state, even as athletesThere were multiple stories about runners who, even though exhausted, stood out in the face of tragedy and helped the injured; knocking down fences for the first responders, soothing those in shock and using their own clothing as tourniquets to help stop their bleeding.

One of those at the scene was former Patriots lineman Joe Andruzzi. The former athelete did everything he could to help, including carrying wounded runners to triage tents.  Of course, Andruzzi gave credit to others as he said, “While I appreciate the interest in hearing our perspective on today’s horrific events, the spotlight should remain firmly on the countless individuals—first responders, medics, EMTs, runners who crossed the finish line and kept on running straight to give blood, and the countless civilians who did whatever they could to save lives. They were the true heroes. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by this senseless tragedy.”

Compare this to the other events that we learned about the same week.  College sports again showed us how sleazy amateur athletics can be, especially when the focus is on winning.  Auburn, which already is dealing with the “pay for play” allegations of Cam Newton has been accused of altering the grades of nine players before the 2010 National Championship game, so they could retain their eligibility.  That same week, it was announced by the NCAA that The University of Oregon, the runner up the year that Auburn won, is now facing sanctions because of recruiting violations.  And isn’t it interesting that their coach, Chip Kelley, left the sinking ship several months ago for the NFL when he knew that penalties would impair his program. 

Also that same week, the Rutgers University situation got more embarrassing.  Not only was men’s basketball coach Mike Rice fired after a video emerged showing Rice verbally and physically abusing his players, with the Athletic Director and the university attorney resigning, but this week allegations arose about their men’s lacrosse coach similarly abusing his players. And there were many other “Idiot Idols” like Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Yovani Gallardo who was charged with DUI, San Jose Earthquakes star forward Alan Gordon making a homophobic slur to an opponent and reports from Yahoo Sports that Clemson WR DeAndre Hopkins and Rutgers (again?) WR Mark Harrison “trashed” their hotel room in Indianapolis while participating in the NFL Scouting Combine leaving thousands of dollars worth of damage.  Not to be outdone, Cal WR Keenan Allen, who also could be a first or second round pick, reportedly failed a drug test at the same combine.

It all seems so petty when compared with the events the same week in Boston.  In sports when our teams don’t win the big one that they are supposed to, we go into mourning.  (I grew up watching the Cubs, so you know how I must feel).  But of course, that’s just something we say.  In Boston, in a real life and death situation, we truly mourn the dead, we pray for the injured and celebrate the strength and fortitude of so many heroes. We hope that Auburn, Oregon and all the other sports stars who are selfish, criminal or simply feel entitled to behave anyway they please are paying attention.  Just stop for just a minute and remember what true stars and true heroes are like. Boston, you have our standing ovation.  

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