bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: My thoughts on the Boston Marathon

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This column will post on Monday morning, nearly a full week after the horror that occurred at the Boston Marathon. I really wanted to write something soon after it happened, but, as is so often the case, life interfered and I never “put pen to paper,” as they say. With the added perspective of 6 additional days, I am not sure I can make a lot more sense of what happened that afternoon. As the resident sports columnist for When Falls the Coliseum, though, I feel like I need to at least give it a shot. The human tragedy of lives lost and lives altered forever at an event that should have been a joyous celebration is one that most of us will not quickly forget.

Back in January, I ran my first marathon. The most memorable moment of those 26.2 miles at Walt Disney World, and there were many, was when I rounded Spaceship Earth at Epcot, went down a bit of a hill, navigated the corner of a building, and turned onto the home stretch. There was an absolute sea of people lining the path, some standing, some sitting on bleachers, all cheering and urging us on. Shortly after I saw this crowd, I spotted my wife, holding my son, and my parents all jumping up and down, exhorting me on to the finish which was so incredibly close. Four hours of exertion and agony had me poised on the brink of the greatest physical accomplishment of my life. Whatever difficulties I had been feeling, particularly over the final five miles, were washed away when I saw them. A picture taken at that moment by Disney photographers showed a guy who didn’t look like he had just run such a crazy distance, so big was my smile.

Fast forward to last Monday. I watched the webcast as the elite runners finished in a little more than two hours. The ease with which they ran showed me the clear difference between real runners and people like me, who are happy just to finish. I left for a run, ate my lunch, and went to a long meeting. When I got back to my office, Twitter was alive with astonished people talking about the tragedy that had just occurred. I watched the live broadcasts, listening in stunned horror at the descriptions of the bombing. I saw video of the explosions and saw the reactions of the runners and the crowd. All I could think of as I watched this awful scene was my family standing just before the finish line at Disney. If I had the speed to qualify for Boston, and if I had been running last Monday, I would have been finishing somewhere very close to the time of the detonations. That could just as easily have been my loved ones being hit with shrapnel and fire as it was the families and children of others. Just the thought of that made me shudder, and those chills have not yet left me.

Sometime during the week, I shared a picture on Facebook that I saw posted about the marathon. It said “If you’re trying to defeat the human spirit, marathoners are the wrong group to target.” I certainly agree with that sentiment. That said, the whole country seems to have come together on this, and I feel pretty sure that people will not be cowed by the actions of two cowardly individuals. I will certainly not refrain from running races, and I don’t think many others will either. I do know, though, that I will feel an incredible relief the next time I see my family at the end of a race, and will probably want to get them moved away from that spot pretty quickly. I don’t expect lightning to strike in the same spot twice, so to speak, but human nature will no doubt play into my distance-addled thinking at that time.

I send my thoughts to the people of the Boston Marathon, especially to those that were injured or killed and their families, as well as to those whose first instinct was to jump in and help the people who were hurt, rather than run the other way.

Bad sports, continued:

2) Jimmy Haslam, the new owner of the Cleveland Browns, is being investigated by the FBI for incidents involving his family’s business.

3) The hotel room occupied by two players attending the NFL’s scouting combine in February was reportedly trashed, according to one of the event’s organizers. The mess, which reportedly included some incredibly disgusting things spread around the bathroom, is said to have belonged to DeAndre Hopkins of Clemson and Mark Harrison of Rutgers.

4) How does Tim Tebow manage to stay in the news at all times? This week, Steve Clarkson, a guy who is said to be Tim Tebow’s quarterback instructor (what a thankless title that must be) ripped New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, calling him “fragile-minded.” This was in response to former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia, who has been tutoring Sanchez during the off-season, who recently discussed the distraction that was created when Tebow was brought to the Jets last year. This has gotten so old. Sanchez is a lousy quarterback, but at least he belongs in the NFL. Tebow may belong, but not as a quarterback. They should both shut up and get their associates to do the same.

5) Kelly Shoppach, catcher for the Seattle Mariners, probably wants this throw back. Yuck.

6) This week’s idiot athlete with a DUI award goes to Yovani Gallardo, pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, who blew a .22 when arrested on Tuesday. Even worse, he was allowed to pitch on Thursday.

7) Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski, both drivers for Roger Penske’s NASCAR race team, got major penalties after last week’s race at Texas Motor Speedway for infractions involving the rear suspensions of their cars. They were both docked points and had multiple team members, including their crew chiefs, suspended for six weeks.

8) Luis Suarez, a striker for Liverpool, attempted to bite the arm of Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea during a match on Sunday. There’s something you don’t see every day.

Good sports:

1) Ben Revere, the new centerfielder for the Philadelphia Phillies, may be having a rough start to the season at the plate, but he made one of the greatest catches I have ever seen on Monday. Check out the video. The fact that he also managed to jump up and double-off the runner who had been on first base was icing on the cake.

2) Driving to work on Wednesday, I heard some sportsradio guys discussing how many points Kevin Durant, of the Oklahoma Thunder, would need on that night’s game to win the league scoring title over Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks. It was somewhere around 70 points. Instead, Durant actually sat out the game, choosing to rest up for the playoffs. I think that was a great choice, and shows that he values the team goals over the individual ones. Good for him.

Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday


Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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