There are very few
people in this world who would ever say they believe sports is the most
important thing in their lives. And coming from a sports fanatic, for
those that do, I feel very sorry for you.
That being said, sports has its place, particularly after a horrific
event. When it comes down to paying tribute to the fallen, sports teams
have one choice. "WE PLAY!"
This weekend, the Marshall Thundering Herd squares off with East
Carolina nearly 36 years to the day after a plane crash killed 75
members of the football team, coaching staff and supporters, which
included local leaders and a senator. On November 14, 1970, that plane,
a DC-9, crashed after a game with East Carolina in Greenville and
crippled the university as well as the people of Huntington, West
Virginia. The future of the football program was in doubt, until Jack
Lengyel stepped up to coach, rebuild the team, the school and a
Nine months later, many believed a team with 72 freshmen and sophomores
would not only get beat in every game, but would be humiliated.
However, in the second game of the season, Lengyel’s "Young Thundering
Herd" scored a touchdown as time expired to beat Xavier 15-13.
Following the victory, players, coaches and fans cheered, laughed and
cried for two hours.
September 11, 2001. New York. Washington. Pennsylvania. More than 3,000
lives cut short by senseless acts of violence. There was no college or
pro football. No baseball. No NASCAR. The sports world stopped, as it
should have, and mourned. TV comedies weren’t funny, late night talk
shows were somber. No one knew what to do.
The New York Yankees and Mets wore NYPD and NYFD hats during games.
Huge flags flew proudly in every sports venue nationwide. Slowly but
surely, healing occurred. Tears were cried in happiness and sadness.
But the sports world help return a nation to a sense of normalcy.
And just this week, the University of Miami football team lost Brian
Pata, a Hurricanes defensive player who was shot and killed after
practice Tuesday. UM Coach Larry Coker is already taking heat for the
decision to play Saturday’s game at #23 Maryland. The players said they
want to honor their fallen teammate. They may be only 18, 19 and 20
year old kids, and may not know the full embodiment of what the loss of
Brian Pata means, but they know one way to pay their respects.