Of 9/11 and Sports
This day needs no explanation. I was still in middle school with nary a clue what had transpired that beautiful Tuesday morning. Just short of 9 AM, history notes regarding the attack on Pearl Harbor were put on hold as I was forced to turn the page and begin filling my notebook with images of a tragic part of history that was simultaneously being written.
6 years later, I’ve seen all the columns, movies, and tributes regarding 9/11. I’m able to understand what happened that day and why it happened. I can put into words everything that surrounded me that morning and the weeks that followed. And now with this blog, I am able to relate that tragedy to two other tragedies in the sports world-- one that occurred just this weekend, and one that Islander nation witnessed the season before last.
Though I wasn’t directly affected by the fall of the towers, I always associate this day with the people who gave their lives to help others. They died doing what they loved, which was sacrificing their place on this earth for the chance to help a stranger keep their place.
Thoughts of 9/11 led me to relate these tragedies to misfortunes in the world of sports. A football player’s life took a turn for the worst this weekend as he did what he loved and now struggles to survive, and a hockey player who epitomized the phrase “heart of a lion” had his career come to an abrupt stop last year. The career-ending and life-threatening spine injury to Buffalo Bills player Kevin Everett this weekend reminded me of the career-ending injury us Isles fans saw first hand in early 2006 to Kevin Colley.
While Mr. Everett likely will never walk again, and still has a long fight ahead of him to survive the injury to his spinal cord, a similar injury to the upper body suffered by immediate Islander fan favorite Kevin Colley turned out to have a more fortunate result. Colley, as you all know, was a hard hitting power forward who didn’t have much size and was never drafted. Yet, he continued to pursue his dream and did what he loved to do. His heart earned him a spot on an NHL roster, and it all came to a screeching halt as he tumbled head first into the boards with help from defenseman Jamie Heward. Colley was forced to retire from professional hockey and just like that, his passion was taken away from him.
In each case above, people suffered life changing injuries and even died doing what they love. A false sense of invincibility often comes with a sizeable professional sports contract, but nothing is guaranteed in life, and especially in sports. Through 9/11 and through sports, I’ve learned that life is a gift in which the only promise is death. Do what you love, and love every moment of it. Nobody is invincible.