What is hope? The definition of hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. But how do you perceive hope? How has hope affected your life? On Easter morning I made my rare appearance in church. I came in not expecting much but what transpired was a beautiful sermon in which Pastor Marks expressed how hope was spread through God. He told a story of a boy in 1942, who was in 7th grade at the time , that came home with a report card that had the grade G on it. The G was even lower than the standard F, which stands for failing. The G stood for “Hopeless.” How is a teacher , who is supposed to be an advocate for children, going to call their student “hopeless?” He explained that in life, if you have ever been called a “G”, God will always have hope for you. And then a thought popped up in my head. I figured I would tell how hope is spread through sports and how powerful sports can be.
April 15, 2013, the sun rose on a pretty Boston skyline as they were anticipating a great day which was called Patriot’s Day. Patriot’s Day is a day celebrated in Boston where the famous Boston Marathon is run. The kids had off from school, the Sox played at 11, and thousands of runners were ready to run the famous marathon. What was supposed to be a celebration soon turned into a horrific day filled with terror. Close to the finish line as exhausted runners were finishing a race a sound, a sight that they would never expect, lit up the sky. At 2:59 PM the first bomb went off. One hundred seconds later a second blew up. Terror had struck in Boston.
After all was done, three were killed , dozens were wounded and a nation was scared. We needed hope we were desperate for that sign. And a few boys with a the word ” Red Sox” on their chest did just that. Back from a road trip, the Red Sox knew they had to talk to their fans, their city. They decided it was fitting to not wear Red Sox on their chest but instead would wear “Boston”, symbolizing unity and hope. A man by the name of David Ortiz who is also known as “Big Papi” came to the mic and said a few words this city will never forget. He said that they were wearing the words Boston on their chest to show that this is their town and you can knock them down but they are going to get back up even stronger than when they were knocked down. He than ended it by saying “This is our Fu**ing City” in his spanish accent. The crowd erupted and it was clear that this was the hope theat they desperately needed. They were going to be okay. They were Boston strong. Oh yea and by the way, the Sox went on to win the World Series that year and the city has been strong ever since.
September 11, 2001, a day this country will never forget for the wrong reasons. Two planes crashed into the Twin Tower buildings in New York City , followed by a crash into the Pentagon, and a plane that crashed in Shanksville, PA, believed to be headed to the White House, which will be known as the worst terrorist attack in American History. The death toll was in the thousands. Thousands of loved ones lost. Fathers and Mothers gone, friends vanished all because of what, pure hate? It was a dark, dark time for this country and I truly believe we were on our way to the next Great Depression. We were desperate for hope , we all felt like there was no hope, we all felt like G’s. About a month had passed, and sports had stopped because this was something much bigger than that. When sports eventually returned the Yankees went on to made a World Series run like they have countless times before. After going to Arizona for the first two games and losing both, the Yankees returned home to a town that just a month ago was filled with ash and fear. The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out that night by the President of the United States, George W. Bush. He walked out on the mound not knowing what to expect but what happened was unity and honor. It didn’t matter what team you were rooting for that night, that night EVERYONE in attendance was a fan of America and a fan of hope. This dark time was going to get brighter and things were going to be okay. The crowd chanted “USA, USA” in perfect unity like a select choir and George went on to fire a pitch right down the pipe. Sports can move people, can make them laugh and make them cry but here is one thing that is certain; sports will always be there for you the next day and there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Finally, this is a story you probably have not heard of. In 1992, the Summer Olympic Games were held in Barcelona, Spain. Hundreds of athletes who had trained their whole lives for just one special moment made their way to the games. One of those athletes was British sprinter, Derek Redmond. He was going to participate in the Men’s 400m and was looking to get his first ever olympic medal. In his semi final event, an unfortunate event took place. Midway through the race and midway through the pack , Derek pulled up, holding his hamstring in severe pain. In a blink of an eye it was over. His dreams were crushed and the chances of winning a medal had vanished. He knew he spent way too much time training and too much time had gone into this for him not to finish the race. As he limped along the track, trainers were urging him to stop as they knew he could make his injury worse. As he kept going, it was evident that he was in more and more pain and evident that the hope for him to finish was slim to none. He needed help but nobody was there. All of a sudden in the corner of the screen, his father ran on the track and helped him finish the race. They did it together as a team and I’m sure that father and son bond grew by leaps and bounds at that moment. Sports can inspire us in ways we can’t explain unless you are in love with sports like I am and hopefully most of you are. It is hard to explain to the average bystander how much sports can inspire you and change your life. I hope you are one of the lucky ones.