One of the joys of working in sports media is writing about and seeing humanity in its rawest form. I’ve experienced the “joy of victory, and the agony of defeat.” I’ve seen incredible feats of athleticism. And I love the feeling you get when you high five a buddy after a your team hits a home run.
However, there is a cynical part of me that tempers my enthusiasm for some sporting events. I think that the millions of dollars spent on athletes could be put to better use. I get frustrated when billionaires ask the public to pony up money for a new stadium. And then there is the overly consequential attitude we have for pro sports. I love sports, but we take them too seriously.
None of those things crossed my mind when I watched the elite runners of the Boston Marathon run by me on mile 23 on Beacon street. I walked along the last few miles of the race course, taking in what was then a convivial Patriots Day celebration. There were people out grilling food, families cheering on people that they had never met, and little kids high fiving runners. People of all ages and races were out and about. It was the great equalizer of sporting events.
I made it to the finish area around 2:30 p.m. I walked to the family meeting area to catch with a high school friend who just finished. Her lips were blue and her mom was helping get her warm-ups back on. She was frustrated by her finish time, but was in positive spirits over all. We were making plans to meet for dinner later when the explosions happened. I thought it was some sort of celebratory cannon fire due to it being Patriots Day. Within minutes emergency cruisers and ambulances came in bunches. Officials were telling people to get out of the area.
A confused, scared, and eerie calm overtook the racers, spectators, and people who were in the area. I wandered around the few block radius, not really knowing what to do, except to stay out of the way of the emergency personnel and take pictures. I called home and let my dad know that I was okay. I needed to go west to get back to my apartment, but we were being told to go the other way or into the South End. A van full of SWAT team members pulled up in front of the Westin Hotel and headed in. I finally got home around 6:30 p.m. after navigating a maze of road closures
Amid the chaos, I witnessed a lot good. I saw a young fraternity member standing outside of his house on Commonwealth asking people if they needed anything. I took some water in a Red Solo cup and thanked him for his generosity.
Earlier in the day, I met Suzanne, a blind middle-aged Greek woman who was standing near Kenmore street. She was standing on the sidewalk just taking the race in. She told me that she could hear“the excitement of the people” and was so happy to be out in it all. Even though she couldn’t see the runners, she had a huge smile on her face.
I hate the stereotype that somehow the East coast is less friendly than my native Midwest. I believe that there are good people everywhere. And that was evident yesterday among the First Responders, the volunteers, and the people who just did what they could to help.
It’s sad that it takes such horrible physical and emotional pain to bring out the good that resides within us all.
However, after the wounds heal and these perpetrators are caught, kindness will endure.