Young soccer player brought us together

Sports have a way of bringing out the best and worst in life. Anyone who’s followed a team through big games (the current Stanley Cup run by the Ottawa Senators is a good enough example) knows how serious something some might view as trivial can turn. Win or lose, the result can seem like the only thing in the world. Unfortunately, while the world of sports can be escapist, it also can seem all too real. Witness the passing of young Bryce Devoe last Wednesday—struck dead by lightning at the St. Francis Sportsfields at the age of 13. Soccer was Bryce’s passion. He played it, he refereed it. He was an athletic boy, and kicking the ball around was what made him happy. Perhaps it’s the innocence of sport, the purity of it, that makes these deaths seem even more tragic, even more shocking. The piety of a football field or hockey rink carries no moral ambiguity, no grime or mystery. A child at play is viewed as something of a hero. Recall the death of a Mississauga high school rugby player less than a month ago. That one death attracted attention from across the country. Consider, too, the death of a 17-year-old hockey player in Scarborough in December due to undetected heart problems. Those two cases are set apart from this one in a few ways. One is that Bryce was, tragically, even younger than those two. The other is that those two could be chalked up to the physical stress of sport—the pushing of buttons in one’s own body that every so often yields an unlikely, yet tragic, result. Bryce’s death is as unlikely, but in ways harder to reason, harder to grasp. As those cases made national headlines, so, too, has Bryce’s death attracted attention from beyond his friends, his family, his school. Condolences and donations have come in from across the region; from perfect strangers. Bryce’s passing has hurt even those who only knew of him, and mourning has brought many together to celebrate his life. At a time when life can seem so empty, so senseless, this community has rallied in support of a departed boy’s family, vocally, publicly, unabashedly, and in numbers. Perhaps tragedy can have its way to bring out the best in people, too.

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