Tragedy to Triumph: How Sports Heal—One Year Later

Chase RuttigCorrespondent IJune 14, 2010

This article was written exactly a year ago yesterday. Three of my friends in my small town of Yorkton, Saskatchewan died in a car accident; drugs were involved. All three boys were athletes and well liked. The deaths affected me and those around me greatly. This story is about how sports heal in times of despair. Thanks for reading.

This weekend was supposed to be an exciting one for me, Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals and Game Five of the NBA Finals were scheduled and highly anticipated by me and my friends.

Then on Friday night, tragedy struck.

Three students at my high school, all athletes, got in a single-car collision and were all killed. Two on impact and one dying in, or on, the way to the hospital.

All three were athletes and well liked in my small community. One was a volleyball player, one a hockey player, and the other a football player.

As soon as I heard the news, I broke down. About two-thirds of the student body of 800 went to the accident, each hoping that it was a rumour and the people on the ground were not their friends.

Sadly, it was them and in the photo, you can see the cross made of hockey sticks by the tree they hit.

On Saturday night, I went to the spot where the wreck happened the night before to pay my respects to these young men I knew. The place was filled with teenagers crying and sobbing at the sudden loss. We stayed there until 2:30 in the morning, at the end, telling stories about them.

Sunday morning came way too early as I couldn't sleep. I started my day off the way I usually do on a weekend morning: watched the highlights and checked out ESPN and BR.

What I noticed was for that one moment, I totally forgot about all the problems and pain going on in my world and became immersed in the sport.

Later on in the day, my brother and I decided it would be good to go to a restaurant and have some wings and watch Game Five of the NBA Finals with a friend.

We got there and well it was awkward at first, we actually ended up having a great time. My friend is a Laker fan and we made a bet the Lakers wouldn't win the NBA Finals. The wager was a meal of his choosing. The Lakers eventually won and when we left, I covered his tab.

What I have noticed during this whole troubling time is sports have always been what I leaned to as my escape from the depressing thoughts and sadness. It has given me my own voice and has been a friend, something everyone needs in dark times.

While I am not advocating using distractions to put off your feelings, it definitely helps.

There are many examples of this throughout history: the Munich Games, the 2001 New York Yankees, and many others. Athletics is often portrayed as a soulless abyss filled with cheaters and money-hungry egomaniacs who are basically just there for entertainment.

But as a species, we need that entertainment or distraction, if we will. I know sports distract us from the big issues in life: politics, corruption, disease, etc. But what would life be if we always dwelt on the negative?

I am sure there are many people out there who will read this and be experiencing some sort of setback in their life: maybe like in the case of my town, the death of loved ones; maybe a divorce; an accident; addiction.

Things happen in life, some good, some bad; it is how you deal with them that makes life, life.

In conclusion, while sports and entertainment may often distract from the main picture, in trying times they can help heal some of the deepest wounds. If you have any stories please share.

R.I.P. 6/12/09