#BostonStrong: How Sports Helped Unite Boston and America In the Face of Great Evil
Strength. Endurance. Perseverance. Toughness. Heart. These five words properly describe just a few of the characteristics needed to complete and excel in a 26.2 mile marathon. Maybe even more appropriately, these words thoroughly characterize the response by the entire city of Boston in one of its toughest weeks ever.
The Boston Marathon is much more than a race. It is a symbol of American society. Thousands of men and women, from different races, ethnicities, and a variety of walks of life come together to participate in a grueling and testing event, and thousands more come to watch and cheer them on. Those that run the race do so for a variety of reasons. Some are the fastest men and women in the world, others do it as a personal challenge, many run it for charity, and some do it as a bonding experience with someone they love. Regardless of the particular reasons that draw thousands to watch and participate annually in the Boston Marathon, these men and women are united by the daunting athletic event itself and come together to support and encourage each and every individual.
As the city gathered for the marathon on Patriots Day, the unthinkable happened. A sacred venue, one of the most historic and popular marathons in the world, was bombed. In a matter of seconds, hundreds of lives were ripped apart and several were lost. If one thing can be said for certain, however, it is that America, and Boston in particular, will never allow for the memory of those who perished, were severely injured, and those who rushed towards the chaos to be forgotten. This past week has all but guaranteed that to be true.
When the horrific and senseless tragedy occurred, America as a whole and Boston in particular responded by praying for and helping those caught in the middle in anyway they could. Professional sports were no different. Moments of silence were held at sporting events throughout the country, and many teams and high-profile athletes made heartfelt and sincere gestures towards all those affected by the bombings. The New York Yankees, the most hated rival of The Boston Red Sox, put traditional rivalry aside and played Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" (which is played in the 8th inning of every home Red Sox game) in a classy and thoughtful tribute to Boston. When the Bruins hosted the first professional sporting event in Boston following the tragedy, each player on both the Bruins and Buffalo Sabres wore tributes to #BostonStrong on their helmets and both teams spent extra time on the ice following the game, saluting the fans and the city for all that she stands for.
Possibly the most emotional tribute of all came from the Boston Red Sox on Saturday, April 20, one day after Boston had been locked down and the two suspects of the bombing were brought to justice. The Red Sox played an extensive video showcasing photos of Bostonians coming together, both everyday citizens and the men and women of law enforcement. The Red Sox honored several heroes who put themselves in danger on the day of the bombings to save the lives of others. As the New England Sports Network (NESN) panned through sold out Fenway Park, it was difficult to locate a dry eye in the house.
Many Boston athletes consistently sent shout outs on Twitter with the hash tag #BostonStrong to paramedics, law enforcement and Bostonians showing their support. Others raffled off box seats, jerseys and memorabilia with all proceeds going to the victims and families of the horrific tragedy.
This is not to take anything away from the thousands of citizens who helped in countless ways throughout one of the toughest weeks of their lives. But in one of the greatest cities in the world also lies one of the richest sports cultures in the world, and in many little ways, Boston professional sports and professional sports throughout America helped bring the country a little closer together. As the Boston Marathon is symbolic of American society, so is the support and concern shared by communities throughout America, from everyday citizens to athletes and large market sports franchises. Hopefully, these moving gestures helped Bostonians enjoy and embrace athletics as an avenue for grief, solidarity, and perseverance.
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