More than just a game

Saturday night, the city of Boston erupted. As Shane Victorino, an outfielder on the city’s beloved Red Sox, launched a grand slam over the famous Green Monster at the cathedral of baseball in Fenway Park to send the Sox to the World Series, everything was set aside and strangers became friends in Beantown.

On April 15, just six short months ago, the city of Boston erupted, but for an entirely different reason. As we all can unfortunately remember, two bombings at the finish line of the world famous Boston Marathon killed three people (indirectly four), and the city was forced to be on lockdown for a week while the suspected terrorists were running free around the city.

It was a tough time for Bostonians, a very proud group of people, to deal with. The city they love had taken a severe hit. But here’s the great thing about human nature: if we get something taken away, we turn to something else to give us hope. That’s what the city of Boston did with the Red Sox.

Coming off a 2012 season where The BoSox lost 93 games, they were predicted for last place in the American League East Division. With the terrorist attack happening just two weeks into their season, the Red Sox adapted a “Boston Strong” approach. Thanks to an inspired effort from surprising players, such as Victorino, the Red Sox are now on baseball’s biggest stage.

That is the beauty of sports. On the outside, yes, it is a game a few adults are playing. And yes, thousands and thousands of fans live or die by the result of these games.

But on the inside, being a devoted fan gives us an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, people find themselves under a lot of stress, whether it would be dealing with jobs, families, finances or in Boston’s case, security. Just to survive, people need an escape route and something to inspire them to persevere.

Or, if you’re lucky enough to be there in person, you yell together and hug someone you just met. Sports create a community atmosphere like nothing else.

And the thing is, top athletes and their greatest moments demand greatness and inspire everyone.
Who didn’t shed a tear when Brett Favre threw for over 400 yards and cried in his post-game interview in Oakland the day after his father died in December of 2003? And likewise, the same goes for when Michael Jordan won the NBA championship the same year his father was murdered and cried on the trophy saying “This one’s for Daddy!”

Not only did Jordan and Favre show how to overcome a tragedy, but they also showed they are people just like us, and while we may see them as only the Gunslinger or Air Jordan, they have to overcome things like me and you have to do.

Sports teach us how to deal with disappointment (see Ryan Braun and his steroid scandal), how to grace success humbly (see the New York Yankees and their 27 World Series championships) and how to persevere through the hardest of times (see, of course, Boston Red Sox 2013).

As Victorino’s towering fly ball sailed through the Boston night, so did the spirits of the city, whose citizens proved once again to people trying to disrupt life that while you may be able to temporarily hurt it, you cannot stop it.

So the next time someone tells you “it’s just a game,” screw them, because as the bounce-back of Boston shows, sports is so much more.