by Ellen Sawin, NCSA College Relations
Tragic events have occurred all through history, but in recent decades, the United States has found a new way to overcome these tragedies. Just two weeks ago, Super Storm Sandy joined a long list of tragedies that have severely impacted different regions and cultures. In the aftermath of Sandy there was a lot of debate about whether the New York City Marathon would take place. After receiving intense criticism for initially planning to move forward with the race, Mayor Bloomberg opted to postpone the event. Even though this event brings in over 300 million dollars in revenue and charity donations, the Mayor recognized that the NYPD was desperately needed in other locations to help the people of New York devastated by Sandy.
Many of the 40,000 runners were upset about Bloomberg’s decision, but they found a way to get over it. Approximately 2,000 of the runners joined together in a “Run Anyway” event, lapping Central Park four times to complete the 26.2 miles. Other runners went to Staten Island to help those who had been impacted by Sandy, including the 2009 Champion, Meb Keflezighi.The marathon was not the only sporting event scheduled immediately following the storm. The New York Giants also had a game, which they chose to play.This game gave New Yorkers something to cheer for.
As this isn’t the first time that athletics and tragedy have crossed each other’s paths, the marathon runners and Giants took cues from other athletes whose careers were affected by a tragedy. Seven years ago in 2005, the New Orleans Saints’ Superdome was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Despite losing their home field, the Saints still played their entire season, simply relocating home games to the Alamodome and LSU’s Stadium. In 2001, the NFL, MLB, and the Ryder Cup all postponed competition following September 11th. Many of those players chose to volunteer with rescue and recovery teams to aid in the aftermath.
There are also stories of teams being the victims of tragedy. Both the Marshall University Football Team and the University of Evansville Basketball team died in plane crashes while traveling for competition. However, both teams rebuilt and competed in their next seasons.
There is never a fix for tragedies like any of those mentioned, but sporting events can shed a ray of hope on even the worst situations. Whether it’s a short period of time that someone can forget about the devastation, athletes coming together to help pick up the pieces, or a community of fans rallying together for support, sporting events provide a short term escape and feeling of encouragement and unity. In each one of these situations, as well as countless others, the sporting world has helped to make things better. Tragedies will never cease, but neither will sports. And as a part of the sporting world, we will always have something that brings us together and guides us through.