Sep 7, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Temple Owls fans hold up an American flag during the playing of the national anthem prior to playing the Houston Cougars at Lincoln Financial Field. Houston defeated temple 22-13. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

When Sports and News Collide

With today being the 12th anniversary since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, I figured it was a perfect time to cover a topic that I have seen become one of the most amazing things about sports: when sports and the news collide.

Personally, even though I was only 5 (about to become 6), I still remember where I was when I first heard about the attacks. In fact, I had just started 1st grade. I had a completely different perspective on everything that was going on around me.

I actually had ended up going to a New York Giants game later in October that year and I don’t remember much of that game except for seeing the boxes scattered right outside Giants Stadium. Everywhere. They had been running a food drive and all of the supplies they had there were frankly overwhelming when I look back on it.

While I never saw the New York Mets vs. Atlanta Braves, the first sporting event in New York after 9/11, game live, I have seen it on Mets Classics. At this point in time the Mets and Braves were bitter rivals. Both teams were crazy good and both have been in World Series contention for a few years past including the Mets just coming off of the Subway World Series loss the season before.

If you’ve never seen that game, watch it. Everyone is wearing NYPD and Fire Department hats (along with EMS and I apologize for any others I’m missing) and the pregame ceremonies are chilling. As the teams are lined up on the baselines, after the National Anthem (which you may never hear sung louder), the Mets and Braves approach each other and shake hands and hug.

Sep 8, 2013; New York, NY, USA; A general view as a large American flag is unfurled over the court during the playing of “America the Beautiful” before the match between Serena Williams (USA) and Victoria Azarenka (BLR) in the women

Think about that. We are talking about basically the Devils and Rangers putting their differences aside and embracing each other for a much larger cause. That moment is still chilling to this day.

Now this one I remember much more vividly though. May 1 (or 2nd depending on where you are talking about), 2011. The Death of Osama bin Laden.

As fate would have it, in almost a full-circle closure kind of way, the Mets were playing on Sunday Night Baseball against their more recent bad-blood rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies. I was watching the game and my sister comes in and says “change the channel.”

I wanted to watch the game so I kind of snapped back “Why?”

“People are saying Osama bin Laden’s dead.”

I figured it was probably some Facebook thing that started and wasn’t true. Sure enough, I put on NBC (although it was one of the main news channels, I don’t remember the exact one but I believe it was NBC).

There it was. I couldn’t believe it when I first saw it. After a few minutes I changed to ESPN. I wanted to see if news trickled there yet.

I will never forget what I saw. First the Bottomline flashed to breaking news. Then (I don’t want to say the wrong person so I’ll keep it anonymous because I don’t remember who it was) the commentator said, “If you haven’t heard the recent news, reports have surfaced that Osama bin Laden has been shot to death.”

Then you heard slow, growing cheers. The cameras caught people showing the news article on their phones. Then the U-S-A chants started. Then they grew, and grew, and grew. The poor players had no idea until they went back into the dugout. Nothing else mattered at that moment. He was dead.

Most recently we had the truly tragic events of the Boston Marathon bombings. I remember I was on the bus to go to a Spring Track and Field meet when I got the bizarre ESPN ScoreCenter alert. “There have been confirmed explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.” I turned to my friends and was like what do they mean explosions. We all know what happened at that point so there is no point in going into details.

Red Sox games were cancelled and I believe one Boston Bruins game was cancelled too (but I can’t entirely remember). Then, they got him. I remember when they pinned him down.

May 28, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; American flag at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

While, personally, I do not enjoy watching the ESPYs, I always check in to see the Images of the Year dating back to last ESPYs. It’s chilling just going back to those days and the panic that Boston must have felt at that time. Seeing David Ortiz talk about how their jerseys say Boston not Red Sox despite them being at home. When he says “This is our city,” it is truly chilling.

Boston turned around just as well as New York did. It doesn’t necessarily matter how big of a scale it is, if it’s a tragedy, it’s a tragedy.

Every 9/11 is a very emotional time for me, for everyone who lives in the tri-state area and for the entire nation. It hits especially close to home since I live so close to the city and I know so many people who work in the city and I can’t imagine how being there on that day was like.

Thank a veteran if you see one today. Give a moment of silence or pray for the ones that did perish in all of these disasters, not just from 9/11. My mom was there that day. She wasn’t near the towers but she was in Manhattan. I am forever grateful that she made it out and I know that there are people that lost loved ones and family that day. My thoughts and prayers will always go out to the victims and the victims’ families because I know I could have been one of them.

Here’s to hoping that tragedies like this won’t ever happen again and that we Never Forget on this Patriot Day.

God Bless America.

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Tags: 9/11 New Jersey Devils New York Mets

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