Sports Provide Background for Country on Tough Weekend

By Derek Kessinger
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports


The talk this weekend, the weekend before Christmas descends upon us, should have been of hope and joy. Instead, the grim reality of facing a world where even our elementary schools are no longer safe hangs over the nation as we try to move again past a mass shooting. Newtown, Connecticut has become immortalized in the worst way as 28 lives were lost Friday and it’s not something the country can just forget.

I awoke Friday morning set to spend a weekend working on finals before heading home for my last winter break as a college student. The devastating news on Friday brought me back to the Aurora Shooting where people I knew lost their lives and I spent the day wishing there was anything I could do for the victims’ families. To lose such a young child, a friend, a sibling, a classmate to a malicious violent act has no justification. And unfortunately, no understanding will ever come from such a crime.

As a nation we grieved this weekend, as best we could. Saturday Night Live offered a nice tribute of “Silent Night” sung by a children’s choir. People donated money to the victims and offered their prayers and well wishes to the victims and their families. For many in the country, the sports arenas and stadiums were a place of comfort.

By Friday night, I had needed a distraction and attended a Denver Nuggets game with my Dad, a win over the Memphis Grizzlies. The moment of silence and the singing of the national anthem is a collective moment after such a tragedy. I think the practices have new meaning since September 11th, as we find a grounding force in our tributes and patriotism and this continued across the nation this weekend. The Sunday Night Football tribute with the single fireworks entering the night sky for each victim was an equally moving tribute.

New Yorks Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz gave a special tribute as he honored a victim by writing on his cleats. 6-year-old Jack Pinto was a big Giants fan and there is a picture circulating of Jack with a Giants tattoo on his cheek and hand. The family is thinking about having Jack wear Cruz’s jersey for his service. Cruz wrote on his shoe, “Jack Pinto, My Hero.” There were other tributes on NFL teams’ uniforms yesterday.

The country turned to our President during the Sunday Night Football game, as NBC cut to President Obama’s speech at the Newtown vigil during the match-up between the San Francisco 49ers and the New England Patriots. The audience missed two turnovers, but only a few malicious twitter accounts complained and then were publicly shamed in a Deadspin article. The President gave an aggressive, but compassionate speech to the mourners and nation that expressed our collective fear and disappointment.

Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose? I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.

He also included a heartfelt tribute to the children to end his speech.

Charlotte. Daniel. Olivia. Josephine. Ana. Dylan. Madeleine. Catherine. Chase. Jesse. James. Grace. Emilie. Jack. Noah. Caroline. Jessica. Benjamin. Avielle. Allison. God has called them all home. For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on, and make our country worthy of their memory. May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in His heavenly place. May He grace those we still have with His holy comfort. And may He bless and watch over this community, and the United States of America.

In the end, the games that were played this weekend were so minor in the scheme of things. They always are. However, they provide a context for the lives we lead. We bond over the games and invest in their outcome. We take sides and allow ourselves to be immersed in the sport. Doing so does not take anything away from the tragedy and the feelings for the victims. We each in the coming months must pay tribute to the victims in our own ways.

While this weekend will be remembered for the loving tribute of a father, the pictures of siblings with one less in their midst or the most powerful man in the world shedding a tear, the games continued on. We get set for another week, a little more thankful for what we have and with the respectful perspective to enjoy each moment, each game, as it was intended.


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