A little less than a year ago, the city of Tucson was devastated that the Arizona men's basketball team didn't make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in a quarter century. A few months before that, they were mourning an embarrassing 33-0 loss to Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl, and as recently as a few weeks ago, Tucsonans were too upset about the football team's five-game losing streak to even acknowledge it.
But considering the events that occurred over the weekend, these once-depressing thoughts seem childish, don't they?
That's because, contrary to the belief of many, life is bigger than sports. Tragedies that result in the death of several people, including a 9-year-old girl, and a severe injury to a congresswoman make a loss to a rival or the end of a streak seem trivial.
The coaches and players that we, as sports fans, idolize and consider heroes take a backseat to the brave individuals who tackled Jared Loughner, Daniel Hernandez Jr., the intern that saved Gabrielle Giffords' life, and the police officers, firefighters and rescue personnel.
It's these people who are the real heroes.
But despite being put to the side, sports gives people the opportunity to escape from the unsettling realities of life. While people like athletic director Greg Byrne, football coach Mike Stoops and basketball coach Sean Miller didn't save the lives or commandeer a helicopter to University Medical Center, they provided us with something to take our minds off of what really matters.
So while everyone, including sports fans, recognizes and appreciates the heroism of those involved in Saturday's attack and mourns the lives lost, take solace in the ability to escape in sport.
""Obviously, it certainly puts things in perspective as far as what we are dealing with on a daily basis and, at the same time, it showed a lot of character in the community and all the people in place in leadership positions as well as all of the doctors and medical and emergency teams that have worked on this situation. We want to thank them for their service and certainly hope long-term we become stronger as a community in Southern Arizona because of this.""
- Greg Bryne, Athletic Director
""I'd personally like to send out my condolences to the families, the victims of what happened here Saturday. It was a sad day, I think, for all of us, but our thoughts and prayers are with the families and certainly Gabrielle (Giffords) and hopefully she makes a speedy and fast recovery. I think that's the most important thing, that we recognize the men and women, the bravery that some people showed. Our thoughts and prayers are definitely with them.""
- Mike Stoops, Head football coach
""Hopefully (the Stanford) game had some kind of a healing effect. We came here to play hard and, in a sense, play for Tucson. Basketball was on the backburner. I thought we handled (the game) the best we could.""
- Sean Miller, Head basketball coach