Debate Erupts Over “Honoring” National Tragedy

Adam Wells

The country experienced another act of violence when a gunman opened fire at the D.C. Navy Yard, where the victim list capped at 12. The Washington Nationals were prepared to play a game that day against the Atlanta Braves at their home stadium, which happens to be in close proximity to the Navy Yard. As a result of the violence, the game was postponed and the teams played a double header the next day. The Nationals wore Navy caps during pregame warm-ups, but they could not wear them during the game.

“I think sports should be kept separate from tragedies,” said sophomore Amit Shah. “I understand the sentiment when a team memorializes a horrific event but I think they should remain separate.”

Junior Arvind Saini offered a different opinion on the matter: “I think sports should memorialize tragedies by having patches on their uniforms or having a moment of silence in the beginning of the game.”

Sometimes, a community has a mantra after something horrific happens. Boston adopted the “Boston Strong” mantra after the ordeal of the Boston Marathon Bombing. The Boston teams even wore their “Boston Strong” patches on their uniforms and the American flags were flying in the backdrop of Boston Red Sox games. Designated Hitter David Ortiz took to the microphone to pump up the crowd. He told the citizens of the city that they are a proud bunch, they then sang the national anthem and moved on to playing the game. It seems that a few pageantry moments in light of an act of terrorism can help the people of the community, even if slightly.

“People watch sports religiously and when they see a team they love rooting for is supporting them through a tragedy, it makes the process a little easier,” said Saini.

Anyone can look at this very city we live in as an example. After the Sept. 11 attacks, the New York Yankees wore patches and hats with NYPD and NYFD on them. President Bush even arrived in the Bronx to throw the first pitch in game three of the 2001 World Series when the Yankees played against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

But sometimes there are exceptions and memorializing should be heavily considered. When Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher murdered his girlfriend and then committed suicide at the Chiefs practice facility, there was a legitimate discussion about teammates wanting to remember their falling teammate with a patch of his number. There was also discussion of the game possibly being postponed between National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell, then Chiefs Head Coach Romeo Crennel and other members of the Chiefs organizations. The conversation weighed the team’s desire to show their love of their teammate with the fact that he was at the time an alleged murderer.

Sports are draped in patriotism. Before the start of games, teams honor our armed forces; flags are spread in the outfield, at midfield and at half-court. So if tragedy strikes, the love of America sky rockets.

There are discussions as to what he right thing is to do. Whether it be a postponement, moment of silenc or the wearing patches and hats, there is no right way to handle such a situation. A sport that millions of Americans watch may be obligated for fear of public outcry to do something to memorialize the moment. They sing the national anthem; there is a moment of silence. There may be tears, there may be sad looks and there may be anxiety. The people may feel close but only for that moment—and then, the game starts.