One of them things that makes sports compelling is the human element. Sure these incredible athletes can do things with their bodies that most of us can’t imagine, but at the end of the day (sports cliche) they are just like any of us. I have seen a lot of football games that stand out to me because of the drama behind them. I was on puppet tour in eastern Pa (ask me about this some time) on the night that Brett Favre and the Packers played the Oakland Raiders. That game was memorable because it was the day that Favre’s father passed away. He was amazing that night! He threw for five touchdowns, returning to the bench and sobbing after each one. I remember the first game in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. It was the Saints vs. the Falcons. It was amazing to see that stadium that was the site of such horror become the center of such joy and celebration as the Saints won that game. This season, Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith had a stellar game the day after his brother passed away.
This Sunday a game was played between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Carolina Panthers. With one team at 1-10 and the other at 3-8, this game would have received little to no attention had it not been at the center of a horrible scene. A linebacker for the Chiefs killed the mother of his 3 month old daughter in front of his own mother. Then went to the team facility, talked to several of his coaches and the team’s general manager and, right in front of them, took his own life. There is so much tragedy in this story. I had very strong feelings about the game being played the next day, but “the show must go on”.
I still don’t agree with the game being played, but I can’t escape the power of what happened in this moment. This listless, one win team found not only the courage to go out and compete but to get a win. I don’t want to read too much into this, but doesn’t this say something hopeful about the human spirit? About our will to live and to affirm life in the midst of death? Doesn’t this say something about our desire to overcome and persevere?
I didn’t think this game should be played, and in the grand scheme of things, the hapless Kansas City Chiefs won a meaningless game. It won’t take away the grief of the families involved or the players themselves. It was a small, absurd gesture. Maybe, it was an act of hope,,,