Sports reflect spirit, vitality of Americans

Years from now, our children and our children’s children will study the events surrounding the terrorist attack on Sept. 11.

I believe their history lessons will be similar to a combined study of Pearl Harbor and the Great Depression, although the flood of innocent people who have perished in the past weeks is unparalleled by any tragedy on American soil.

It is unlike any battle the United States has ever waged. It was undeniably the darkest hour for all American alive today, a surprising devastation, jeopardizing our country’s security.

Yet there has been an overwhelmingly powerful spark in the country’s morale.

In what appears to be our darkest hour, my fellow Americans and I are at our best. So say the firefighters, police officers and politicians involved in saving and rebuilding New York.

Although we’ve been wounded and taken aback, our country is striding toward greatness.

Sounds familiar.

Let us reflect for a moment: the 1988 World Series in Los Angeles. Kirk Gibson, injured, remarkably punches the ball over the left field fence for the game-winning run.

History holds the tales of undisputed champions, like Muhammad Ali, and unsurpassed underdogs, like Rulon Gardner, the Olympic wrestler who didn’t care about his opponent’s record. He wanted the gold, and that’s what he got at the 2000 Summer Olympics.

Sports are an exciting and passionate part of life that stabilizes our sanity, strengthens our confidence and fosters our ability to overcome diversity.

Please understand that I do not intend to glorify or draw unnecessary attention to athletes and the fields they compete on. I simply believe that patriotism and team spirit dance to the same tune.

The point is that this heinous incident has impacted everything about us, including the ever-popular yet insignificant world of sports.

In the past weeks professional, amateur and student athletes alike have stepped out of their gladiator-like personas and shown their respects to families and friends of those lost.

They’re back, now. And they know how to get the ball rolling.

What better place to boost patriotic excitement than a baseball game or a college football game?

Even high school football games are drenched with the American spirit.

The great thing about sporting events is that you have something to cheer for. For those two to four hours, you scream, shout and say things you don’t say at home because your team is winning.

When our children study this tragedy, the social trends that surround the American reaction will be a specific point they place in their thesis. They will know and recognize the patriotic spirit felt by our nation and our world.

To understand such a movement they will look to athletics because it will be alive then, as it is today–as it has always been.

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Title: Sports reflect spirit, vitality of Americans | Author: Blake Raney | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2001-09-26 | Internal ID: 2126