From A Sports Perspective, Boston’s Tragedy Can Sting and Unite


April 16, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; A scoreboard displays a message to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings during the eighth inning of a game between the Oakland Athletics and the Houston Astros at Coliseum. The Oakland Athletics defeated the Houston Astros 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes as sports fans, we tend to look at too many non-sports related issues from sports-colored glasses. There’s a reason for that, as shall be explained later. It is perhaps more appropriate to look at the bombings at the Boston Marathon more from the perspective of sports than it is other major events such as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, or Superstorm Sandy.

The obvious reason for this is because the event occurred at a sporting event—the Boston Marathon. It is not only a sports event, but one of the most renowned sports events in the world, albeit undercovered in the American press because it doesn’t fill the baseball, basketball, football filter the mainstream sports media has succumbed to. Not to mention the fact that it took place on Patriots Day which is a state holiday in Massachusetts.

This sad event puts into perspective of why we are sports fans in the first place. We are sports fans primarily because sports are our escape from the ills of the world. It is an idea that has been embraced by many of us as evidenced by the ballooning ratings of sporting events as of late. We’re tired of all the wrong ways of the world, so we turn from international and domestic events to international and domestic sport.

The attacks in Boston can be described under the umbrella of many things. They must also be looked at as something else—an attack on sports culture. Again, this is not the most important of the elements that can be analyzed with this, but it can be seen as an attack on sports culture.

Celebrating athletic achievement is something we do very well. It can be something on an international scale such as a highlight goal from Lionel Messi, a gold-medal winning all around performance from Gabby Douglas, or a game winning buzzer beater from LeBron James. It can even be something that may only be a local event such as local high school track or little league softball.

It is another thing, however, when sports is the object of planned attacks like this because it hits at our culture. It is not the first time it was done as evidenced by the bombings in Atlanta at the 1996 Olympics. It is that heartwrenching moment for us as sports fans when the harsh realities of such a cruel world encroach on, perhaps, our most cherished of pastimes—our enjoyment of sport.

Ever since the attacks occurred, I have been glued to the internet feeds of local TV and radio feeds coming out of Boston. Some have already told the local and national media there that after this attack, they have no plans to return for any future Boston Marathons. Looking at this from the perspective of sport, this stings because it is an attack on sports culture among many other things that are more important than sports culture.

After all, one of the casualties turned out to be an eight year old child named Martin Richard. He was simply waiting for family and friends to cross the finish line at the Marathon before this heinous event took his life.

That’s the tragic side to this as there can be no doubting that there is a tragic side. Usually these events are met with much sorrow and much heartbreak, but also with a period of rebounding.

In sports, it can be said that the healing process for Boston has already began.

The Fenway Park anthem “Sweet Caroline” has been played at all Major League Baseball stadia where teams are playing this week. Outside Yankee Stadium, the Yanks have put up a “United We Stand” sign featuring the logos of the usually heated rival Yankees and Red Sox. In the sports section of the Chicago Tribune, its front page features a banner with the logos of all five major Boston area sports franchises with the words “We are Chicago” before every one of them.

In Philadelphia, May 5th’s Broad Street Run is scheduled to go as planned, but some runners are questioning if they should go or if they want anyone watching. WCAU-TV 10 says most runners are still planning to participate and Mayor Michael Nutter is planning on increased security at the event.

The tweets have been pouring in from athletes ever since the Boston attacks occurred.

“Praying for the ppl in Boston!” —@BenRevere9

“Very sad to hear the news coming out of Boston. Horrific. My thoughts and prayers to all those involved”–@ShaneVictorino

“God Bless Boston and God Bless America.”–@spencerhawes00

“#prayersforboston”–@De11eDonne (Elena Delle Donne)

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people in boston.” —@MartinTruexJr56

“Very heartbreaking #BostonMarathon We will not be intimidated by the cowards who did this. #Prayers4Boston #USA” —@LaTroyHawkins32

“My thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Boston. L such a horrible tragedy and so scary to think my sister was there last year”–@jordyn_wieber

“My thoughts are with the victims from the explosions in Boston. Makes you stop and think about the important things in life. #prayingforyou”–@MikaelaShiffrin

“I love you Boston, please know we’re thinking about ya’ll! We will get through this together! #PrayForBoston #BostonStrong”–@JLester31 (Jon Lester)

“I can’t wait to put on my jersey today…I get to play for the strongest city out there. #BostonStrong” —@middlebrooks (Will Middlebrooks)

Needless to say, if you weren’t cheering for Boston teams prior to the bombing, there’s a good chance you may have been now. This is where the uniting power of sports is about to come through again.

Sports rose to the occasion after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Sports rose to the occasion after Hurricane Katrina and played an integral role in the recovery of the Crescent City of New Orleans. Boston is one of the most sports savvy cities in North America. A beautiful part of sports is that it has succeeded to unite where political leaders have tried and failed.

Amidst all of the BS and money involved in sports nowadays, it still at its core is something that can bring together communities, townships, cities, and countries like no other thing can do in today’s culture. Look at the makeshift logo created for “Boston Strong”. Which symbol of the city is featured prominently?

The Red Sox “B” that dons their hats.

That’s why we are fans and remain fans.