Posted by Katie Peverada
On Saturday, the Boston Red Sox beat the Kansas City Royals 4-3, a victory that moved the Red Sox to 12-4. This victory meant more than most, though. It was important victory as it helped begin the healing process for the city of Boston after tragic events at the Boston Marathon just five days before.
Sports have long been used to help cities and people move on after tragic events. After the Sept. 11 attacks, a major sporting event did not take place in New York City until Sept. 21. But just as with the recent events in Boston, the various professional leagues had decided that postponing games was the right decision, which it was. But eventually, on Sept. 21, people realized that sports and athletes hold a great healing power.
The first game on Sept. 21 was played between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves. It held huge significance in the National League playoff race, so it would have been emotional to begin with, with players and fans alike staunchly holding true to their fandoms.
But something different happened.
The Mets fans and the Braves fans came together. The bitter rivals were cheering together in the stands, waving American flags, and collectively erupting when Mike Piazza hit a towering homerun for the Mets to put them ahead 3-2, the eventual final score.
This past week in Boston, the same thing happened.
On Wednesday, during the Bruins' game against the Buffalo Sabres-the first game in Boston after the marathon bombings-the crowd of 17,565 came together to sing the national anthem. The game was played, though, with each fan cheering for their respective team. The Bruins lost 4-3 in a shootout, and Buffalo fans in the arena rejoiced that their playoff hopes were still alive. But after the game, both teams came together at center ice and raised their sticks in a salute to the fans, and the fans returned with chants of "USA! USA!"
The Braves and Sabres fans weren't necessarily cheering for a Mets victory or a Bruins victory. They cheered for the perseverance of the effected people, but also for a return to normality, something desperately needed. They cheered for the Braves or Sabres not only because Boston fans wouldn't want pity any day of the week, but because it was the normal thing to do.
For people to return to rooting against the Mets on Sept. 21 or continue to boo the Bruins on Saturday shows what sports do in the aftermath of a tragedy: they return people to normality.
Sports gather people together in one place to cheer on teams or individuals competing for a victory. Playing or watching or cheering for sports gives an outlet, no matter how trivial it may seem, for people to be normal again.
After the Sandy Hook shootings, the soccer community came together to help over 1,000 kids from Newtown return to an activity that gave them joy. Names like Landon Donovan, Christie Rampone, Mia Hamm and Cobi Jones were all present and playing soccer with the kids. For these stars to play with the kids allowed the kids to see that being normal and playing sports again was okay.
So whether it's a fan in the grandstand watching Piazza's homerun shoot into the sky or a little kid at the Sandy Hook soccer clinic, sports and its athletes allow people to heal. Sports allow all people-old and young, fans of the Royals or Red Sox, Mets or Braves, Bruins or Sabres-to see that while yes, they are being rooted against, they're also being rooted for.