The surreal narrative of events unfolding in Boston even as I write makes it hard to draw conclusions that seem anything but ephemeral. Where can good be found when there is so much unknown? But we do know something unique as Bostonians, and maybe something broader about humans as a result of this recent act of terror at the Boston Marathon on Monday: sport unites us.
It sounds trivial and perhaps even trite, but the subtext of the unfolding events is a story of the triumph of sport over the darkest forces humans can unleash upon each other. From those who ran the marathon, then found the strength to assist others who lay injured to every major league baseball team playing Sweet Caroline to the National Anthem at the Bruins game, acknowledgement was spread through sports.
Tributes came pouring out across the entire sporting landscape to the city of Boston and it’s teams, from armbands at soccer games in Europe to the Chicago Tribune’s sports page that honored Boston and Boston’s sports teams showing that it is through sports that we can quickly and viscerally find meaning from chaos. Even if that meaning is to honor those we have lost.
That these moments provided some of the brightest moments amongst the chaos and uncertainty says something about the role of sports in Boston life. The passion of this city is expressed in so many ways it would be unfair to suggest that sport is the only vehicle by which we will acknowledge, heal and carry on. Yet a Bruins hockey game somehow came to symbolize our will to show triumph over weakness and despair. While it may be common across humanity that sports should be a show of human spirit, the way events unfolded this week, the way sport was the target of evil, the way sport brought us quickly together, the way it honored and inspired was uniquely Boston. And, the rest of the country knows this about us.
The city is shut down today. A massive manhunt is pressing the pause button on our everyday existence. A baseball game and a hockey game will be cancelled tonight. Tomorrow there will be another game though. A day game at Fenway and no doubt there will be a moment of silence for the people who were hurt or killed today. There will be Sweet Caroline and the National Anthem. And through these games, silly little games, we will express what it means to be Boston.