Newtown tragedy puts sports in perspective

jonbuzby@hotmail.comJanuary 6, 2013 

There's nothing like tragedy to put sports into perspective. It seems unfair of me to be writing about "How to help your kids dribble better" when 20 sets of parents in Newtown, Conn., had to attend funerals for their children the week before Christmas.

The tragedy impacted the local Newtown youth sports organizations. And I don't mean in terms of teams losing a leading scorer or key defensive player.

There was talk of kids having to return to school and seeing empty desks once occupied by friends, now empty forever. The same empty feeling happened when youth sports teams gathered for the first time since the events of Dec. 14. All of a sudden, the new teammate who became a good friend at the previous practice or game is no longer there.

Sometimes we lose sight of what the sports world is really all about: A diversion, sometimes fun and other times frustrating. But sports are not life or death. We were reminded of this on that tragic morning.

Whether or not my son will play shortstop isn't so important anymore; the choice he'll have to make between basketball and indoor soccer is a minor one; not getting a new bat for Christmas is just a minor bump in the road.

I can't help but think about all the sports moments I've shared with my three boys -- either as their coach, with them at a game watching one of our favorite teams, or sitting in the bleachers as their number one fan. There are 20 fathers in Newtown who will never share another sports moment of any type with that son or daughter. Those dads will never cheer for them, wince for them, wish them luck before a big game, or sit on the couch next to them decked out in their favorite team's colors.

I spent Christmas Day with my wife, watching our boys open their presents. And then I sat down to dinner with them, my in-laws and my parents. I enjoyed it, but at the same time I thought about the families in Newtown who couldn't.

This is a sports column, so in the words of the late John Wooden: "Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."

We can't change what happened in Newtown. But now when we parents drive our kids to the local gym and watch a practice or a game, we can each take a moment to think about the parents in Newtown who won't get to do that again.

One simple thought to let them know we care.

Reach Jon Buzby at JonBuzby@hotmail.com and follow him @JonBuzby on Twitter.

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