A deeper meaning in sports

Published 5:15 pm Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Baseball as a whole suffered a major loss over the weekend when Miami Marlins 24-year-old phenom Jose Fernandez passed away in a boating accident. Fernandez, the team’s ace, was en route to a career season with the Marlins. He had 589 strikeouts in his career at the time of his untimely death.

Sports — especially America’s pastime — are often tasked with helping in the recovery process from such tragedies. That’s even the case when the incident doesn’t directly involve sports. Baseball, when it returned to New York, was a vital part of the recovery after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The Marlins were, perhaps unfairly, asked to begin the recovery process Monday when they hosted the New York Mets.

Teammate Dee Gordon offered a tribute to his fallen friend as best he could. The lefty batter stepped into the batting box on the right. He watched the first pitch go by for a ball in homage to the right-handed Fernandez.

Once Gordon switched back to his natural side on the left, he took a fastball down the middle from Bartolo Colon and demolished it for a homerun — only his ninth career homer. Tears poured down Gordon’s face as he came around the bases.

Whether or not a tragedy directly involves it, sports are a fitting way to offer tribute. They’re something the majority of people can relate to and bond over. They can be uplifting. They can, at the least, provide a distraction.

Such was the case in a local football game recently. Northside traveled to Riverside on Sept. 16. Both teams were undefeated entering the contest. Panthers lineman Jacob Boyd was crushed by a blindside hit during an interception return in the second quarter.

It was a scary scene as Boyd hit the ground and didn’t get up. He ended up being stretchered off the field. Penalties negated the turnover, and Northside quarterback Jackson Midgette took off for a touchdown on the first play after the game resumed.

Midgette channeled his emotions and used them to honor his injured teammate. Gordon did very much the same thing.

Sports are generally an entertainment outlet. Even at the high school level, though, they can provide something deeper and much more meaningful.