A time of somber reflection

Published 2:32 am Friday, January 31, 2020

So this week I begin my Sports Chatter article with a question for my readers.

What do Mickey Mantle, Muhammed Ali, Frank Robinson, Babe Ruth, John Havlicek, Bart Starr, Lou Gehrig, Dale Earnhardt, and Len Bias have in common?

Now, the first answer would be that they were all professional sports stars in their respective sport and that answer would be absolutely correct.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

However, if I had added the name of Kobe Bryant the question would have been probably a little easier to answer – these are all professional athletes who have passed away whether by age or other tragedy.

Now, one might say that this is an interesting way to lead into a Sports Chatter column but this one is coming more from the heart than from a sports take and it may be a little more lengthy.

First things first – when reading this piece please keep in mind that I am not trying to be cynical or mean spirited about what is included this week.

It is just my attempt to shine a light on something that I think from a sports perspective as well as a life perspective that sometimes we have a tendency to forget.

When news broke of Kobe Bryant being killed in a helicopter crash along with his daughter and seven other souls, all one could find was news on almost every channel regarding his tragic passing.

And believe me, it was for good reason as Bryant was a great basketball player when he took the floor for the Los Angeles Lakers.

However, as the day went on, it seemed that it was just one relentless news feed after another about his passing.

I find it very difficult that often the news of these types of tragedies is made into a media frenzy to see who can get an upper hand on other media as who can break the news first.

His wife, to my understanding, first heard of the news on TMZ, a news outlet, which just is pure sickening to think that someone cannot be notified in a more personal and respectful way.

But getting back to my thought process, as I continued to flip channels throughout the day the thought occurred to me about how much value we put on professional sports athletes while we neglect those who deserve as much attention or maybe even more.

Let me dive a little deeper. Bryant and the other men that I mentioned leading into this column were just that – men.

Their professions thrust them into a larger limelight than that of the utility worker who spends days on end in cold and mud to make sure that we have water and electricity.

It also places them in the spotlight above the men and women who work tirelessly to make sure that your family and mine stay safe and sleep well and I am talking about the policemen, paramedics, and firefighters who are there at a beckoned call.

They are also elevated above the men and women who forgo their personal lives with their families to make sure that we can enjoy watching these professionals play their games while protecting our country against a foreign threat.

I think that one can see where this piece is going.

The thought crossed my mind that on the day Bryant and his daughter died in a horrendous crash, that somewhere a fireman or policeman gave their life in helping someone in need but we didn’t hear about them.

Somewhere across America or the world, a serviceman – either active or retired – fought their final battle in life but yet we didn’t hear about their patriotism to this great nation.

I know that professional athletes are in the public eye more so than maybe some of the ones that I have mentioned.

However, how many times are we guilty of going overboard to honor someone who has made a living playing a game, made millions, lives in a lifestyle many others will never be able to and is almost worshipped as a God when they leave this world by the hand of death.

Again, please do not misinterpret what I am saying. I am glad that these athletes have been given the God-given talents they have.

But, I think that we must be cautious to make sure that we remember that they like we are human.

And let us not forget those who have given of themselves to make sure that we continue to have the blessings and freedoms we have today.

Lastly, I have in past articles stated the faith that I stand on and in my personal faith and salvation in a loving God.

In line with those beliefs, I feel that one day we will all be held accountable for our life’s decision while here on Earth.

And while I have admiration for athletes at all levels, on that day we will all be evaluated equally when standing before a just creator – whether athletes or everyday citizens.

My prayers are with the family of Bryant’s wife and children and all his family and former teammates as well as the others that perished that day.

But those same prayers are extended to all others who have experienced a loss as well, especially those who have been taken tragically from this life.

Sometimes a good time of reflection standing in front of a mirror reminds us just who we truly are.