There are times when sports are just another form of entertainment...we watch millionaires square off against other millionaires while making tons of cash for their billionaire owners. We cheer, we boo, we drink and enjoy the experience. But there are rare times when sports transcend entertainment, when they become more than "just sports". Whether it be a political or social movement through sports (Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games or the 1980 "Miracle on Ice"); the inspirational (Autistic high school student Jason McElwain scoring 20 points in his only game appearance); or the emotional (Bo Kimble shooting left-handed free throws in memory of his fallen teammate, Hank Gathers), sports can be more. Sports helped as a distraction after 9/11 as G.W. Bush's fastball for a strike during the 2001 World Series might have been his best move ever.
Last night, the New Orleans Saints and the NFL helped to showcase the strength and resolve of the American spirit to the world. Yes, it was only a football game. But it was just that... a game. Things aren't back to normal in La. and they won't be for many years but last night was an opportunity for New Orleans to say, "We are here." Sports parallel life and in this case, very closely. As the Saints were a team without a home, so too were many thousands in the area. The Saints sought refuge in other areas and were welcomed with open arms. So too were the survivors of the hurricanes as donations from around the world poured in and several families (including some in our area) opened up their homes and hearts to these people.
These are moments that might not make lots of money or bring home championship trophies; instead, these are moments that create memories, life lessons as to what people can do when they see a barrier and push themselves right through. These "goosebump" producing moments are few and far between, but when they happen, I am proud to love sports!
...On a completely different note, I'm worried about this Madden Curse. Now that the Seahawks' running back, Shaun Alexander, will be out with a broken foot, I'm worried that other Electronic Arts video game cover athletes might be in danger. Elliot Sadler appeared on the cover of the NASCAR game and weeks after the deal was announced, he dropped in the point standings and changed teams. With less than two weeks until the start of hockey season, I'm worried about the NHL 07 cover boy, our very own Alex Ovechkin. He missed Sunday's game in Hershey with a "minor" injury which shouldn't keep him out for any more games. My suggestion: when he's not on the ice, Ovechkin should be wrapped in several layers of bubble wrap. That way he will stay healthy and fit in between games.
...The Tigers are in the playoffs?!?! The same Tigers that have lost over 90 games the past 5 straight years, haven't been over .500 since '93 and lost 119 games in 2003? These Tigers are tied with the Yankees for the best record in the AL and fighting for home field advantage! And they are doing all of this with the 14th highest payroll (40% of the Yankee payroll!)