Sports have a way of taking our minds away, even if for a brief amount of time, from the 24-hour news cycle that reminds us of the unspeakable acts and awful events that unfortunately happen.
Last Sunday, the NFL did the best job it could of trying to bring a bit of normalcy to everyone’s day, while still taking time to remember those who lost their lives and were impacted by the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Opposing players embraced with referees in silence during coin tosses, teams stood on the field in moments of silence, players and coaches displayed the school’s initials on their respective helmets and attire, and some players even expressing specific messages.
New York Giant’s receiver Victor Cruz, upon hearing that one of the unfortunate young victim’s of the shooting was an extremely big fan of Cruz’s, displayed a dedication to the 6-year old victim on his cleats for Sunday’s game – “R.I.P. Jack Pinto,” it said, along with, “Jack Pinto, my hero.”
With a family facing that much tragedy, you want to be someone that inspires them The Giants were beaten to a pulp on Sunday at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons, 34-0, the second shutout for an NFL game in 2 weeks. And while a result like that makes those players at the side of the loss less inclined to speak to media, Cruz spoke.
“With a family facing that much tragedy, you want to be someone that inspires them, someone that can put a smile on their face at a time where it’s tough to do that.” Cruz visited the Pinto family at their home on Tuesday in Newtown, the day after Jack was buried in the player’s No. 80 jersey.
In the neighboring state of Rhode Island, Providence College basketball head coach Ed Cooley called the school’s contact at Nike to see if special uniforms could be made in time for Tuesday night's home game against Colgate. “I couldn’t watch all this without being moved, like so many people. If we can show the people there that we’re thinking of them, I hope we’ve helped,” Cooley told local media.
The Friars players wore green and white jerseys with “Sandy Hook” on the back in place of their names on Tuesday night- the colors being those of Sandy Hook Elementary School. In addition to the jerseys, players wore green and white sneakers, while cheerleaders were also wearing green.
Even more moving, Providence College kept the 26 upper-level seats in the indoor facility empty, green ribbons on the back of each and a sign above that read , “Newtown, Connecticut: We Have You In Our Thoughts and Prayers.”
These acts by teams, coaching staff and players during these last few days remind us that while sports are able to take us away from the daily grind and life for a period of time, it is after all just a game.
For my competitive natured self, saying that it’s “just a game” is rather difficult. Whether it’s on a soccer field or the work place, I’m not very good at losing. But it’s moments of tragedy that really put into perspective what is important. Sports give us a break from life and for me that break was unfortunately watching my team be destroyed by the Falcons. And while I admit my focus was always on that troubling score, at the end of it all, as opposing players embraced and the crowd stood I was reminded.
Remember, It’s just a game.