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Ten years ago, the events of September 11th marked the worst attack on American soil in our history. There are no words to justly describe the tragedies that took place on that fateful day, but in its aftermath we all began to heal through an unforgettable demonstration of unity, resilience, and patriotism that is still echoed now, a decade later. The way we did this varied from person to person, community to community. People put up flags, prayed, mourned, offered their helping hand, and did everything they could do to come together and heal as a country made up of people whose differences no longer seemed to exist or matter.
Beginning with the historic baseball game at Shea Stadium on September 21, 2001, many of us found comfort in the sports that have become so deeply ingrained into what makes us proud Americans. For New Yorkers, Mike Piazza’s eighth inning home run gave the city the first chance to give off a unified sigh of relief, as everyone finally began to near a sense of normalcy. The win gave New York City something to cheer about. It gave us a chance to prove to each other that we were down, but not defeated.
Chief fans in Kansas City embraced the New York Giants as they traveled for their first game following the attacks. USA chants replaced those for individual teams. Through these games, people everywhere began their healing process. Their attendance made a statement to the world; our way of life will not be changed.
People found comfort in numbers at the stadiums. New Yorkers sat next to other New Yorkers that were just as scared and just as affected by the attacks as they were. Together, they healed in a way they could not do alone.
Professional athletes emerged as some of the many heroes that rose when they were needed. Equally shaken, they recognized their responsibility to their fans and showed up to work day after day. Piazza’s home run filled the stadium with relief, but every pitch and at bat of that ballgame played just as important a role into helping New York City heal. Every day that those athletes showed up to the stadium, despite their own fear and worries, the city came closer to that sense of normalcy everyone desperately needed.
The service sports teams provided throughout the country and especially in New York City a decade ago cannot be quantified or even readily described, but one thing is for sure. The ongoing healing process following that tragic day would not have been the same without professional sports. They are a staple of American culture and their presence is vital for people all around this great country.
We need to remember this and not just on the ten-year anniversary of the attacks of September 11th. Recent violence, exemplified by the fan beaten close to death at Dodgers Stadium and the fan shot at a San Francisco 49ers game, is a sign that we are forgetting what sports are all about. We are all Americans, who should share and enjoy the passionate culture of pro sports together through healthy rivalries and competition. Professional sports are one of great things about our country and that should never change.