At nearly every sporting event leading up to the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, fans were asked to bow their heads for a moment of silence to reflect on the victims and the heroes who died, and for the thousands of Americans who lost loved ones that day.
I too have spent much of this week in reflection.
New York City seemed eons away from my fourth grade classroom the day of the attacks. I did not know anyone who died. But I know that many of you did.
Sports teach us to combat our opponents and defeat them. We have spent years trying to defeat the enemy who brought us so much pain a decade ago. And finally, President Barack Obama announced in May that Osama Bin Laden had been captured and killed. But did our fear die along with him?
You cannot go into a large stadium on game day without having your bag checked or a wand waved over your Yankees t-shirt. We have continued to create a world filled with fear rather than one filled with trust.
But sports have remained the source of an ever-present sense of patriotism. Rarely do you see thousands of people place their hands over their hearts and rise in unison to sing the national anthem.
Only once in four years do we witness a group of strangers in a bar chanting, "USA, USA," when the United States scores in the World Cup. And only every other summer and every other winter do we get to watch so many talented athletes who run the gamut from figure skaters to swimmers, represent our nation in the Olympics.
Let's continue to sing "Sweet Caroline" in Fenway Park, watch football after Thanksgiving dinner and maybe chant "We are, UR," a little bit louder at the next home football game. Because if we have one other, sports and our pride, we have, as Franklin D. Roosevelt said, nothing to fear but fear itself.
Martial artists bow to each other out of respect before and after fights. Tennis opponents shake hands at the net after a match in agreement for a well-fought battle. We need to learn that our opponent is an equal and necessary part of the equation. We cannot destroy hate and evil. But we must learn that love for our fellow humans will always triumph over those who are filled with the desire to harm others.