Yesterday—though the exact details are still confidential and probably always will be—at about the time I was sipping a beer and having a hamburger in a crowded bar with my two buddies, as people around us laughed and cheered on the Sharks, the Giants, the Celtics, the Heat or whatever teams were getting love on a side-TV, as we bought another round and examined vintage pictures of Joe Montana and Bo Jackson on the walls, helicopters dropped off a team of Navy SEALs near a specific fortified compound in Pakistan.
Yesterday, at about the time the NBA officials made an example of Paul Pierce and a mockery of themselves, and the Celtics fans erupted in anger and confusion, which soon gave way to the sad realization that their team was, in fact, old and probably going to lose this series to the Heat, that group of Navy SEALs was slipping into that specific fortified compound with their fingers ready on the triggers of very powerful machineguns.
Yesterday, at about the time some Dodger fan mentioned Andre Either and a legend named Joe DiMaggio in the same sentence and his buddies jumped down his throat for even bringing up The Streak, that specific fortified compound in Pakistan erupted in blaze of gunfire.
Yesterday, at about the time Ubaldo Jimenez’s fantasy owners had cooled off and remembered that the baseball season is a long one, as the gunfire blazed, an American helicopter crashed while a woman was being used as a human shield.
Yesterday, at about the time the NHL’s few remaining fans watched their playoffs and we all recovered from the highs and lows of the NFL draft, the most hated man in the Western world was assassinated.
Of course, everyone’s answer is different.
The realization that soon-to-be-historical violence was flaring halfway around the world as I drank beers and watched Dwayne Wade take apart the Celtics certainly gave me pause. That’s our world—at least as it stands now. While I cover my French fries in Tabasco and debate whether Colin Kaepernick is the answer, violence bursts in dark corners.
Did I know this? Yes.
Did I know this? Maybe not. Maybe I still don’t. Maybe I can still only really imagine Osama Bin Laden’s assassination like I’m controlling a game of SOCOM.
So does it change how I’ll think about sports? I don’t know—should it? One can never exhaust attempts to understand the facets of our world, good and bad, and keep them in perspective. I know calling the space between the sidelines “a battlefield” is a little silly, if not wrong; I know that hurling the remote against the couch when my team chokes away a game is pretty foolish, considering.
Yet in many ways sports are a reprieve, a proxy for the brutal competition we know lies not far from our doorstep. As long as we have the right perspective on everything else, maybe we shouldn’t ever, even if it's just in our heads, lose that safe harbor.
Caleb is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and can be followed at www.twitter.com/calebgarling