I’ve followed sports my whole life and can honestly say that I have never seen anything quite like the national anthem at Wednesday night’s Boston Bruins-Buffalo Sabres game, the first major sporting event in Boston since the senseless acts that took place at the Boston Marathon. Only a few words into The Star-Spangled Banner the noise began to grow as the entire arena of 17,000 plus Boston residents sang in unison. It was hard to keep a dry eye just watching it on sportscenter, I can’t imagine what it would be like to be there. Watching that moment was as proud as I have ever been to be a small part of the greatest country in the world. It was more than just a hockey game, even to the players on the ice. Steve Ott, an alternate captain for the Buffalo Sabres said of the Bruins opponent, “We’re all playing for Boston”. This is why sports are truly the greatest form of theater.
Sports bring people together unlike anything else in the world. On any given day, if you go to a sporting event wearing the home team’s apparel, you give yourself a chance to bond with people you have never met; and when tragedy strikes, the unity is just at a whole new level. Only sports fans can understand the emotional attachment that they have with their favorite teams, and the personal hatred they have for rivals, even if they don’t know anyone in either organization. In any other context, it’s just not socially acceptable to love and hate people you’ve never met, but in sports it’s the standard. Baseball fans realize how bitter the rivalry between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox is, arguably the biggest rivalry in American sports. Yankees fans hate the Red Sox and their fans, and yes, it is personal. The Yankees like to rub their 27 rings in Boston’s face more than anything, but on tuesday night, Sweet Caroline, the song that is played during the 7th inning stretch at Fenway Park during every Boston Red Sox game, was played at Yankee Stadium as Yankee fans sang along and video boards read, “United We Stand” with a Red Sox logo and Yankees logo on each side. For at least a day, the rivalry didn’t matter, America stood as one as New York did what they could to pick up their wounded brother.