Thursday, May 3, 2012

The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat

I am a huge sports fan.  Always have been, always will be.

Yesterday was one of those days that touched my life a little closer, hurt a little more, brought more joy.

Two things happened that struck home for me.

Junior Seau committed suicide and Jered Weaver threw a no-hitter.

I'm sure that by now, most people are aware of Seau's passing.  And anyone who follows baseball knows about the no-hitter.

For me, though, they are more than just news stories that will fade in the coming days.

Junior Seau hit the peak of his college career just as I was looking for schools.  He was the gentle giant who wore #55 for the USC Trojans, and one of the main reasons I became obsessed with both college football and going to USC.  By the time I was a student there, he'd left his legacy and moved on to the pros.  This video is running on the USC Sports home page this morning.

I'd join him in San Diego a few years later and solidly become a Chargers fan.  Only after living there a little while did I see what he meant to the people who lived there and rooted for that team.

Though he spent some time on other teams in the final years of his NFL career, to me he will always be a Charger.  He was the heart and soul of the team, and the city mourned the day he was traded.  I know that professional sports are as much about business as the game itself, but I will never understand that trade.  It made no sense, on the field or to the fans.
He took his own life yesterday, in the same way other former NFL players have.  He shot himself in the chest, which leads people to speculate that he did it for the same reason the others did.  That the years and years of abuse had taken a toll on his brain.  That he couldn't live that way anymore, and that he wanted scientists to be able to study his brain in the hopes of protecting those who would come after him into the game he so loved.

It is a tragedy, yes.  Tragic that he felt there was no other choice. Tragic for his family. Tragic for all the kids out there who learned that even heroes aren't invincible yesterday.  The real tragedy though, would be to have no meaning in his death. My heart aches for his children, and yet I think that he was trying to tell us something. To protect players more, to work harder to shield them from brain injuries.

My eldest son so desperately wants to play football.  I want to let him, really I do.  Then things like this happen and I wonder again if it's worth the risk.  If Junior had it to do over again, would he have always played?  Would he want his children to play?

Junior Seau was and will forever be part of what I identify with in my past.  He will forever be #55 to me.

When I hadn't even digested the information of his passing, another story.  On the complete polar opposite side of sports emotions.

A no hitter, thrown by a kid who chose to take a lower paying contract so he could stay close to home.

A kid that I will always call a kid simply by virtue that he's the younger brother of a classmate of mine from high school.  Jered Weaver.

In the stands, his parents and wife and watched history unfold.
I'm sure he's floating on air this morning, and he deserves this moment.

I've seen as many games as I have been able to when he or his brother Jeff were pitching, rooting them on louder than most no matter which team they were on at the time.

This is a victory worth savoring.

Congratulations, Jered.  Enjoy it.

1 comment:

  1. And you know Kelly, Jeff and Jered always always give back to the high school. My brother is now an Asst. Coach for the baseball team, and one or both try and make their annual alumni game.

    ReplyDelete

Some of My Most Popular Posts