Archive for Thursday, July 3, 2008

Pastime remains as time passes by

Off the Rim column

July 3, 2008

It's time to celebrate America today, tomorrow and this weekend.

The boys of summer are in full swing and they've been that way for months now. As America goes, so does its pastime.

People have come and gone from this great country, including legendary ball players, but the sport still remains the same. It's one thing most of us can agree upon.

As we celebrate Independence Day on Friday, it makes us look at what has made this country last for 234 years. It could be freedom or democracy.

One thing that has helped this nation during recent years has been athletics. Yeah, it's just a part of this country, but it's been there through good times and bad, through thick and thin.

Some of the sports' world's darkest hours have come during the past few years with steroid allegations, teams cheating, dog fighting and even referees betting on games they were officiating. It saddens me to think that we can't just watch highlights or hear about cheerful stories anymore.

Then again, the same can be said for our country. We are still involved in the Iraq War, our economy is sinking while prices rise and we still have to be worried about another terrorist attack.

It makes me just want to hide in a box and not turn on the television for fear of hearing some awful news. However, even after our darkest hour, Sept. 11, 2001, what was it that helped kick start our nation again?

We attempted to regain some normalcy in our lives, but how did we do that? We attended football games. We attended baseball games. We went out and cheered on our so-called heroes, who were dealing with the same pain and fear that we were.

For a time, they were no different than we were. They shed tears for those lost on that tragic day. They helped give to those in need of blood, water or other supplies. They helped drive the American spirit back in all of us.

Some of the most memorable moments for me during that next week were watching the American Flag be draped across the field at Yankee Stadium or watching professional athletes cry during the national anthem.

The same can be said for today.

While we live in this time of economic crisis, we still find a common bond with athletics. Although we may differ on which team we cheer for or root against, it's still the idea of being part of that team that drives many of us. We want to be part of something special.

I sure felt like I was in April when the University of Kansas won the men's basketball national championship. Thousands of us all felt like we had a part in that title.

Now we flood out to the stadiums or ballparks to bond once again. We eat hot dogs or bratwursts, stomp on bleachers and wear our rally caps.

Every time I talk about baseball, I'm reminded of my favorite baseball movie, "Field of Dreams." The scene near the end where James Earl Jones is explaining to Kevin Costner why people will come to his field.

He simply said, "The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come."

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