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Monson: What happens when terror, tragedy run headlong into sports

Published April 17, 2013 12:12 am

Marathon • Cowardly act of terror strengthens resolve of Bostonians, Americans.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Processing what happened at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday — dual blasts with cruel intentions — made the rest of the sports world seem to stand still.

Blood-soaked sidewalks, where parents and children and friends of racers had celebrated athletic achievement one second and then suffered for some cause that will be furthered not at all at such senseless waste the next, tend to have that awful effect.

Terror and tragedy by now are nothing new, but when that kind of harm and heartbreak intrudes into sports, it messes over the simple joys found in an iconic running event, and, even beyond, in the afterglow of a memorable Masters or in the suspense of an NBA playoff chase or in the anticipation of an upcoming NFL Draft.

For a brief moment, anyway. Sometimes, much longer.

Anyone who witnessed or watched the 1972 Olympic Summer Games in Munich feels a bit of ache, still, although few remember what was trying to be achieved.

America's most famous marathon, one that included 27,000 participants this time around, has been scarred now by some yet-unknown nefarious individual or group of individuals hell-bent on getting attention and creating fear and advancing a cause by hurting everybody. But — and here's the irony in such tragic foolishness — it will not work, at least not the advancement part.

Whoever perpetrated this horrific act, planting and triggering those bombs, killing three people, including an 8-year-old boy, and sending well over a hundred more to hospitals, will be disappointed at achieving little more than steeling the resolve of Bostonians, in particular, and Americans, in general. Apparently, at this point, nobody knows who those responsible are, where they are located or what their exact motives were.

What we do know is that that dead child and his grieving family, those victims whose legs were shredded by bits of flying metal, had no accountability in whatever complaint was being expressed in such terror. Why is it that cowards who hide in shadows take their deadly protests straight to and exact their deadly tolls from the innocent?

They've flown airplanes into and parked trucks full of explosives in front of buildings, they've blown up day-care centers, they've killed children and family members and friends, and now they've stepped into America's mostly insulated world of sports.

It's surprising, really, that something like this hasn't happened more often, at one venue or another. One of the more poignant pictures from Monday's tragedy came right after the explosions occurred: While many people were running away from the danger and destruction, others — EMTs, police officers, doctors, nurses, security personnel and regular citizens — ran directly toward the danger and destruction to do what they could to help.

We should keep those people in mind, and appreciate them and their effort, when we think about what happened Monday, and, for that matter, the next time we stand in line for security checks at arenas and stadiums and parks, wherever they are, before and during and after the games we love to attend.

Those bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, but they didn't finish America's most famous test of endurance. Boston will shed its tears, will mourn, will get angry, all while investigations are done. Then, it will make adjustments, take some precautions, and put on its race again and again and again in the future. Senseless acts won't put an end to America's traditions, in and out of sports. They'll only steel its resolve, and make it cherish and protect them all the more.

Gordon Monson hosts "The Big Show" with Spence Checketts weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM, 1280 and 960 AM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.