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Games in Time of Tragedy

The meaning of it all. If at all.

We all cheer. It's what we do.
We all cheer. It's what we do.

Writing for a sports website during a time of national tragedy is a real force of perspective. Never is it clearer that we write about meaningless and trivial matters than when everyone it seems is writing about things that do matter. When 28 people, including 20 children, are dead, no one really cares who won the game this weekend.

I have no particular insight that you likely didn't have. I went home, hugged my daughter a little more than normal, and put her to sleep, safe in her bed. Of course I asked why, though I don't have any more answers than the rest of you.*

*Though I am generally irritated by those who say we shouldn't talk about policy after this. Whatever your views on gun control, mental health, or school security, this strikes me as precisely the time to talk about it (though maybe not here). That's our responsibility as citizens in a representative democracy. It's like saying we shouldn't have talked about terrorism on September 12th. This probably isn't the place, but it is certainly the time.

On Saturday, we watched sports again. It's what we do. My wife is a middle school band director, and her district high school (and her alma mater) are in the Texas state high school semifinals. We watched their game online, and cheered as they made they made the state finals on a last minute field goal.

Today, she gets to go into her school and tell her middle school students that they will get to march with the high school kids at the half of the State Finals in Cowboys Stadium. They'll cheer and carry on, of course because let's face it, it's pretty cool to be on the field of an actual pro stadium.

I'll likely take the Little Poseur to the game this weekend, and she'll fuss and not pay much attention to the game because she's only seven months old. But she'll like the noise and the people and the colors because she likes that sort of thing. We'll visit Mom while she's working and it will make her smile.

But we'll sit in the stands with all of the other fans, stomping and cheering. Grandma and a Grandpa will come, and Grandma will ignore the game so she can obsess over her granddaughter. Such is a grandmother's prerogative. If Cedar Hill wins, we'll cheer, and if they lose, we'll be sad for about ten minutes.

We often say that sports are a form of escapism. That people use these games as a way to get away from their lives and forget about their troubles for three hours. I don't believe that. Sports bind us, they bring us together. They do not make us escape, they draw us in and make us even more aware of the connections we have.

Maybe it doesn't matter who wins. But it matters that we played. It's a small bit of joy in a world that could always use some more. I don't know why 28 people are dead, but I do know that thousands of people will gather this weekend to watch silly little games. They will cheer and feel gladness, and the ties that bind us will grow just a little bit stronger.

And that's not so meaningless after all.