Drew Pierce is a junior journalism news major and is a columnist for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Drew at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In times of chaos, there is only one thing that can supply us with a sense of normalcy. Sport.
There is something very special about athletic competition that can bring people together in the harshest of situations.
After the devastating events that took place on Sept. 11, 2001, everything halted. It was almost as if a hush went over the United States. This applied to sports as well. Seven days passed before another professional sporting event took place in the United States.
On Sept. 18, 2001, the Atlanta Braves travelled to Shea Stadium to take on the New York Mets. When the city was still cleaning and grieving, baseball stepped up to give the city and the rest of the country a glimmer of hope.
Over 40,000 fans packed the house and emotions were high. What was one of the hottest rivalries in the game, became a unifying moment for everyone involved. Before the game started, both teams shook hands and exchanged hugs to show solidarity during a troubling time for the entire country. Each team wore hats representing the New York Police Department and the Fire Department of New York in honor of those who risked it all on 9/11. The Mets went on to win 3-2 and it proved to be a victory for the American people and not just Met fans.
As a sport full of patriotism and Americana, baseball stepped up again after the Boston Marathon bombings in April 2013. The Boston Red Sox left for a road stretch the day of the horrific bombings and had an impactful welcome when returning to Fenway Park. Former Red Sox player, and future Hall-of-Famer, David Ortiz took matters into his own hands.
Big Papi delivered a very emotional testimony in front of a sold-out crowd at Fenway.
“This jersey that we wear today, it doesn’t say ‘Red Sox’,” Ortiz said. “It says Boston. This is our f------ city. And nobody is going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong.”
Although Ortiz was a fantastic hitter, one of his most impactful moments will be standing on the infield of Fenway and rallying an entire city together.
America’s Pastime is not the only sport that offers help when disaster strikes.
In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina rocked the southeastern United States and left the New Orleans in shambles. Through all the heartbreak, there was one thing that brought everything back together. The New Orleans Saints.
Because of a stadium dispute, the Saints were looking at options to move out of New Orleans and into a new city. However, Katrina caused negotiations to stop after the Superdome was deemed unplayable. Since the Saints couldn’t use the facility, it was considered a disaster relief area where people slept and got the help they needed.
The Saints split up their home games between various locations and did not return to New Orleans until the start of the 2006 season. The Saints defeated the Atlanta Falcons on the first game back to brighten up The Big Easy.
The Saints went on to have the franchise’s most success season up to that point by reaching the NFC Championship game for the first time. Although the talent on the team was high, it is hard to say that a rallying city with nothing else did not have an impact on the season.
Sport is the one thing in life where politics and personal differences get pushed aside. For a few hours in a day, the only thing that matters is good times and friendly competition. In a time of division and constant chaos, sports are always there to slow things down give us the relief that we sometimes need. That is how important sports are. In a time of crisis, the only thing that is truly there for relief is sport.
To some, it is just a game. But in dire circumstances, it can be so much more.
Contact Drew Pierce with any comments at email@example.com or on Twitter @dpierce3cc.