By Ray Gallagher, Examiner Sports Editor, @Directrays
Ever since I was five, sports has always been a great unifier, something that brought my dad and I together… even during those tough early years I thought we’d never survive #LoveYouPop.
When those terrorist bastards crashed those two planes into the Twin Towers on 9/11 of 2001, it was that emotional Mike Piazza home run for the NY Mets to beat the Braves in late September that allowed joy to creep back into the hearts of tortured New Yorkers.
It was the NFL that took our minds off the dreadful sorrow stored within us all after we watched folks jump from the windows of the towers rather than perish from the heat and infernos produced by jet fuel. It was the blue seats of Madison Square Garden where we gathered temporarily in unison to put 9/11 out of our minds, if only for three hours at a clip. Twenty years ago this month, sports were our salvation… the one thing that galvanized us when we sorely needed a pick-me-up.
Sports have always brought us together, but it’ll take more than sports this time. Americans are fighting an internal war among themselves these days, a war without a winner. Again, though, it was football that brought many of us together last Friday night at places like Somers, Yorktown, Lakeland, Putnam Valley, Arlington and many more… venues that, spearheaded by local adolescents, honored our fallen heroes with USA-clad themes.
Those of us that partake in these commemorations provide a glimmer of hope in a sea of recent despair that too many of us wake up to these days on account of the political division within our once-great country, a republic that can rise and regain status once again under proper leadership. Let’s agree on one thing, folks: The swamp is deep, and this semi-divided country couldn’t be any closer to the bottom of that bayou than it currently is #LetsHopeSo.
Turning the corner starts in our schools, where administrators, school boards and teachers need to stay on point and leave THEIR politics out of the classroom. Getting out from this dead-end won’t happen if a biased media continues to steer the narrative and quickly turn the page on 13 dead servicemen/women that didn’t have to die in Afghanistan on Aug. 26. Those 13 were honored by the @Carmel_Crazies last Friday night in Arlington with 13 USA folded flags on the front row of the visiting bleachers. One thing I know: Carmel kids get it and always have when it comes to patriotism.
Turning the corner means the left and right need to agree to disagree, CIVILLY!, without scorn for one another. My body/mind chooses sports as its release from all things detrimental. It takes me away from the depravity of CNN for a few hours, if even to be tortured by the recent play of the Mets/Yankees as we head down the stretch of this insufferable MLB season (as if I’d ever turn on CNN!). Though Sunday night’s 7-6 Mets win over the Yanks was as good as baseball gets.
But now I’m being told by Madison Square Garden authorities that my healthy 13-year-old son MUST get the COVID-19 vaccine before we can see the NY Rangers contest the Montreal Canadiens on Nov. 16.
Apparently, we have no choice if we want to parade around the world’s most famous arena like “normal” fathers and sons do because a couple of Karens — NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio among them — insist my son must get the jab if he wants to sport his Mika Zibanejad jersey at the Garden.
Look, I was first in line for the vaccine at the Westchester County Center back in February because I’m pleasantly plump, pushing mid-50s, love me some wine and worry about my declining health, so it’s not like I’m anti-vax. But how dare you mandate that on my kids and preclude my children from sports arenas because my wife and I opt otherwise for them on account of the actual science (a better than 99.5% survival rate for their age group)?
I don’t pretend to have the answers to any of this malarkey but I do know that sports have always been our get-away, and now they’re taking that, too, so I’m asking you kids to do all of us oldtimers a solid, even though many of you were merely a twinkle in your father’s eye at the time of 9/11: #NeverForget! #BePatriots! #SaveThisCountry!