Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tragedy Helps Put Sports In Proper Perspective

We'll take a break from basketball, at least directly, to bring to your attention a story of tragedy in upstate New York, the subsequent outpouring of support (in some ways via MAAC connections), and how adversity can, and should, put our enjoyment of sports in proper perspective.

What began as an enjoyable evening out for four New York Capital Region high school students who attended this past Saturday's Siena-UAlbany men's/women's double-header at Albany's Times Union Center ended in the death of two of them in an auto accident.

According to local reports, their SUV was struck from behind by a driver who was allegedly under the influence of alcohol. Their vehicle careened into a highway's median, flipped over and left two Shenedehowa High School students dead and two others, another Shen student and a Shaker High School student, seriously injured.

It left four families grieving, and two communities in mourning, as well.

A sign outside Shaker High School posted there yesterday said much: "Shaker-Shenendehowa ... Together."

The outpouring of support included many posts via available social media outlets.

We'll note just a few, coming from Siena's senior forward O.D. Anosike, who once again showed himself to be as caring and responsible a young man as I have encountered in many years.

Here are three posts via Twitter from Anosike in recent days ...

"I get upset about losing games and remember kids died on their way home from watching my games. What's more important? Pray 4 their families."

"Car the kids crashed in subsequent to my game. Life is more important than wins & losses. Count your blessings."

"While you're stressing over Christmas gifts, games and other minuscule things, pray for the families of these kids."

Anosike also posted several times imploring others to support an effort to encourage New York Jets' quarterback Tim Tebow to call one of the crash's survivors, a Shenendehowa football player.

Several thousand similar tweets did indeed produce the intended result as Tebow called crash survivor Matt Hardy Monday night.

Tebow later tweeted "Thanks to everyone who got (the tweet request) trending and helped connect us. Matt truly inspired me. God bless y'all."

There were more than 50,000 Twitter users who retweeted the request to Tebow, and close to 17,000 more who tweeted in support of having Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin to call the other crash survivor, Bailey Wind, a standout diver at Shaker H.S.

Franklin called Wind, but wasn't able to directly connect Monday night. She did, though, leave a voicemail message.

But what resonates through it all is how a young adult, in this case Siena's Anosike, can put sports and real life issues in their proper perspective.

As someone who lost lost someone very, very close far too soon and at far too young an age not that long ago, I can personally attest to how personal tragedy does indeed minimize sporting events.

Suddenly mid-major level basketball gets put in its proper place. It becomes nothing more than what it was always meant to be, an entertainment and a diversion. The realization becomes that it surely pales in comparison to what truly is important in life. And, that's life itself.

It reminds us all ... .or, at least, it should ... that the hue and cry to fire a coach whose team is off to a slow start is misplaced. That the angst over a star player having a bad night, or over a team losing to a local rival just pales in comparison to what should be meaningful in all our lives.

It is indeed unfortunate that, often, it takes personal tragedy to remind us of those lessons.

Or, that it takes a caring young man like O.D. Anosike to remind us that yes indeed, "Life is more important than wins and losses."

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