Out of the darkness and into the light

Scott Peterson will be dead soon for murdering his wife and unborn child. In Ottawa earlier this month, Daniel Maxheleau allegedly killed his parents and 25-year-old sister.
It was discovered recently that China and Iran had nuclear-capable missiles, a judge, court reporter, deputy, and a federal agent were killed by Brian Nichols in Atlanta, and in Iraq, the smell of death still clogs the wits of men.
You want to learn more about man’s failures and shortcomings? Just keep turning the pages of a newspaper.
That’s what I did. And to actually think I tried to find an article, headline, or even a picture of something with delight to try and balance all the bad that is happening in this cruel and cynical world.
All I can say is this—thank goodness for the sports pages, which are always there to divert us from such horrors.
During that same week, the sports section gave me stories dealing with the NCAA “March Madness” basketball tournament, the Carleton Ravens winning the CIS basketball title with a decisive win over the Concordia Stingers, and the Rimouski Oceanic extending their record unbeaten streak in the QMJHL to 28 games.
The saddest story in its pages revolved around Major League Baseball and some of its biggest names being subpoenaed by the U.S. Congress.
“I always turn first to the sports pages, which record people’s accomplishment,” Chief Justice of the United States Earl Warren said many years ago (he passed away in 1974 at the age of 83). “The front page has nothing but man’s failures.”
When starting out in journalism, you are taught and constantly reminded of the age old phrase: If it bleeds, it leads. But I say it should be replaced with this one: If it scores, it soars.
In most British newspapers, the front page of the sports section is on the back page of the paper. Both pages are published on the same sheet of newsprint, allowing the reader to peel that sheet from the rest of the paper, spread it across their kitchen table, and see the front and back page side by side—news and sports—looking like the masks of tragedy and comedy.
I believe every newspaper should adopt this format.
We are more than three years removed from the Sept. 11 attacks. The world stopped on that upsetting day and it was a day which everyone can remember where they were when they heard the news.
But there was something that we finally realized, and something I always recall whenever I read about some the ghastly things that occur in this world: each day we play Russian roulette with a bullet called life.
Many people think that sport is insignificant, but such events like the Sept. 11 attacks, or the horrible stories being reported like the ones in this column’s first paragraph, made me respect and appreciate what many of us still take for granted.
I agree that money and ego has chipped away at its innocence. That players are characterized by the logo on their sneakers. Are no longer concerned about the team logo on the front of their jersey, but rather their number on the back.
That an athlete’s character is weighed more by the amount of bling-bling around their necks than the amount of character shown on the playing field. And that Ray Lewis’ pre-game dance resembles a ritual goat slaughter performed by Santeria priests.
But underneath all that hype and gusto there is something very good and very meaningful all of us can learn to appreciate and use to better our own lives.
Through sport, we can learn how to deal with adversity. We can learn how to act when you’re the best player in the world (Wayne Gretzky) and the worst (Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards).
You can learn how to lead a team (Michael Jordan), but most importantly, what it means to be a part of one (Bill Russell).
Sport is the light. We live in a world of uncertainty and hate, but of the very few things left on this Earth that can give us something without asking for anything in return (but a couple of hours of our time a week), sport is tops on my list.
In this bipolar world of good and bad, peace and war, life and death, it’s sometimes hard to differentiate between the two. Sport gives us an escape from all the chaos that surrounds us—and lets us take advantage of it for our own betterment.
It lets you, even for a moment, whether playing or watching, step outside of yourself and engulf in something good and, yes, meaningful.
We live in an era where actions speak louder than words and though mine often have been misunderstood from the start, I think it’s time for all of us to step back and really look at what’s important in our fragile lives.
Because after all, in the end, it is just a game. Or is it?
emoutsatsos@fortfrances.com

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