When tragedies and the sports world collide


Yesterday we watched the news unfold of tragedy at a major sporting event in was is traditionally a joyful day for the residents of Massachusetts. As Rockies fans, we have seen tragedies strike in the Rockies heartland and have been given a glimpse into how pieces of the game can help fans and athletes alike.

This week's feature was supposed to be upbeat.

It was going to be yet another Dexter Fowler piece -- because there simply haven't been enough of them in the past two weeks. It was a then-and-now piece taking a look at his professional history -- from his late round draft selection, to picking up switch hitting, making the jump from AA to the majors, then his demotions, talks of ending the entire switch hitting thing, the off season trade rumors, and finally looking at the numbers behind this year's early power display. I was ready to provide my own predictions to the questions: is this power here to stay, and will he have an All-Star worthy year?

This is not that piece.

It is hard for me -- as I am sure it is for many others -- to concentrate on things like that right now. It is hard to see the world in shades of purple when really on a day like to day it is a dark grey.

The sports world gives us a few hours every week or even every day to just enjoy the extreme dedication and talent possessed by these athletes in their work, and to be united with millions of people we will never meet in cheering on these few. At the end of the day, however, we are sports fans because we enjoy it as a form of entertainment and because it is an escape for us.

The explosions yesterday shattered the escape that people find in sporting events. It's more than a little hard to swallow the fact that those who were killed or injured were there solely to find joy in this elite event- whether as participants or spectators. This is not a mindset that invites conflict, and that makes yesterday's tragedy in Massachusetts especially difficult to swallow and move on from.

Ultimately it will be the sports world that will help us to do so, even just a little bit. As Rockies fans we know this to be true. We have seen our fair share of tragedies that have struck close to the Rockies heartland. We have seen the real, visceral reactions of athletes we admire and respect as they have reacted to senseless events from Columbine to Aurora.

First, there is the reaction that sporting events are absolutely insignificant when held up to human lives. This is something that gets echoed a lot after violent tragedies. There needs to be a period where we all - fans and athletes alike - divorce ourselves from the game a little just so that we can cope with real, raw emotions. But when we reconnect to the game, we see it changed a little bit to acknowledge the tragedy that occurred and the grief we felt and witnessed.

In 1999, it was the "CHS" patch on the jerseys. It was the raw reactions from athletes such as Todd Helton, responding not as an athlete but as a parent. Last year, it was the black "We Remember 7-20" jersey hanging in the dugout and the moment of silence held at the first game following the Aurora shooting.

When the sports world and major tragedies collide, we don't see the insignificance of the game, we see people unified and we see a victory of human spirit, which is something that I, for one, could use a little of today.

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