Let’s remember a particular way that Americans sought solace in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks: sporting events. I’m always overwhelmed by the communal beauty of the American sports scene. So much pageantry, so much tradition, so many people who share a common identity through a particular sport and team. In a time of tragedy, I’m not surprised that so many Americans turned to sports for healing. This was not simply an opiate of the masses, head-in-the-sand way to avoid our troubles. Rather, I remember Americans coming together to that sporting place where others simply “get” them and being uplifted by the athletic feats they witnessed.
There’s an ebook out that focuses on just this topic – Baseball After 9/11: Six Nights That Helped Heal America. Its author, Patrick Carney, recounts some great baseball moments that allowed people to put aside their political views, sports rivalries, peanuts, and crackerjack to come together for mutual support. Two episodes are posted below. As an aside, portions of all proceeds of the book go to Tuesday’s Children, which serves the children and spouses of those who died on 9/11.
George W. Bush was a divisive president, to say the least. Yet his presence at and passion during a World Series game helped bring healing to a divided political scene and a hurting city.
Mike Piazza’s go-ahead home run for the New York Mets gave New Yorkers a huge boost in the first professional sports event in New York after 9/11.
Were I to write a football sequel to Carney’s book, I would add the scene below. I remember seeing this game live and being amazed at the camaraderie and coordination to pull off such a communal feat. Behold Texas A&M’s “Red, White, and Blue Out.”
The violence and divisions that terrorism creates have not ended, but neither will the ability and desire for people to come together and support each other. Such support wins every time.
The cover image, of the “Bell of Hope” in New York, was taken by Flickr user Rich Renomeron.