Butler County Times Gazette
  • Costello: Sports can bring unity in universal, unique way

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  • The images around the sports world this past weekend once again reminded us of what is really important.
    The tragic shooting in Newtown, Conn., sparked a wealth of support from individual players and teams at all levels across the country. NBA players put commemorable sayings or the letters SHES on their shoes. Teams, including Augusta High School's basketball teams Friday night, had moments of silence. The New England Patriots shot off individual flares before Sunday night's game in honor of all those whose lives horrifyingly were taken from them.
    Sports communities are good about taking the time to remind people of what's really important in life, and certainly what's more important than sports. Fans, myself included, can get caught up in the game and spectacle of sports, but when something like this shakes our country, it's time to step aside and show support in any way possible.
    That's the great thing about sports. They bring people together in a unique way. Sure, one fan will hate on another's fans team during a contest, but afterwards, they can go eat dinner together as friends again.
    There's kind of an unspoken responsibility that is attached to prominent sports teams. After off-the-field tragedies with Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys players recently, outcries in cyberspace were spoken to cancel the following game. But the games were played as scheduled. No, it was not callous or insensitive. It's a symbol—admittedly it could be viewed as an elementary one—that hope will prevail, that people will bond together and all can be united with common goals.
    Sports can teach lessons to other facets of our sometimes broken, often-times divided society. The aforementioned actions to show support for the Newtown victims weren't made with political agendas behind them. They weren't in protest or hate, but rather in love and support. Yes, there are important issues that face our society, decisions that need to be made, solutions that need to be found (if there are any). But these steps to change things need to be done out of love and respect, not of arrogance, selfishness or indifference.
    Maybe it's too idealogical, not realistic enough. But the great thing about sports is the combination of the two and the sensibility to know when it's necessary to be one or the other. Now is the time to believe in the ideas of unity and working together to help one another. Tragedies can happen anywhere. We can't wait until it's too late before we understand what we have. Realistic steps need to be taken soon to minimize these tragedies (unfortunately, they'll never stop), but our society needs to take these steps in unity, not with fingers pointing at each other.
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