Michelle Berthiaume

Sports Editor

The definition of tragedy is “an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress, such as a serious accident, crime, or natural catastrophe.” Unfortunately, the world we live in has become far too familiar with the feeling of despair due to tragedy.

Last week, in Boston, Mass., three people were killed as a result of the thoughtless acts of two men. According to the Boston Globe, two Chechen brothers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, planted two separate bombs at the 26 mile mark of the 117th Boston Marathon, which were later detonated, killing three and wounding over 100 athletes and spectators.

Steven Senne / AP Photo Singer Rene Rancourt, right, gestures toward a Watertown Police Honor Guard, left, on the ice before a NHL hockey game between the Boston Bruins and the Florida Panthers in Boston, Sunday, April 21, 2013.

The three victims of the attacks were eight-year-old Martin Richard, 29-year-old Krystle Campbell and 23-year-old Lu Lingzi, according to CNN.com. Boston area hospitals are also still filled with injured victims of the bombings.

The Boston Athletic Association, the organization that makes the marathon happen every year, released this statement the day of the attacks, “It is a sad day for the City of Boston, for the running community, and for all those who were here to enjoy the 117th running of the Boston Marathon. What was intended to be a day of joy and celebration quickly became a day in which running a marathon was of little importance.”

Over the weekend following the attacks, a citywide manhunt was focused in the Boston suburb of Watertown, Mass., according to the Boston Globe. This manhunt caused a virtual lockdown over the city of Boston. The Red Sox game was cancelled, Kenmore Square was empty, the T wasn’t running. The birthplace of our nation was silent, indoors, glued to their televisions, hoping for an end to the bloodshed on their streets.

In the midst of this tragedy, this awful event, Boston came together. And one thing that brought the people of Boston together was the love and ever-burning passion for our teams.

Two days after the marathon, April 17, the Boston Bruins were the first team to play at home with the Red Sox and Celtics having scheduled games for later in the week. They played the Buffalo Sabres. Before the game, in perhaps one of the most touching moments I have ever witnessed as a lifelong, diehard, Boston fan, the crowd came together to sing the National Anthem.

As I watched Rene Rancourt stop singing after the first few words and the city of Boston take over, tears came to my eyes. At that moment in time, everything was okay. Sure, everyone was hurting. Someone had messed with the city we all love on a day that is meant to bring everyone together. Everyone felt pain. But right then, as everyone sang the words to our country’s song, it was okay.

A fan favorite on the Bruins, Brad Marchand, told SportsIllustrated.com that it was an emotional night for the players as well. “I was fighting back tears,” Marchand said. All of those who helped sing the words to the National Anthem that night sent a message: we are Boston Strong. That slogan then took on a life of its own.

The same night that the Bruins dropped a shootout to the Buffalo Sabres, the Boston Red Sox were playing in Cleveland, Ohio against the Indians. The Red Sox players learned of the Boston Marathon bombing as they departed from Fenway Park for a road trip to Cleveland, following their annual 11 a.m. game on Marathon Monday, according to FoxNews.com.

The Red Sox dugout that night held a jersey that read “617 Boston Strong” on the back. FoxNews.com reported that Clubhouse Manager at Fenway Park, Tom McLaughlin, along with Red Sox designated hitter Jonny Gomes came together to create the remembrance.

Gomes said after the game, “They’re out of sight right now, but definitely not out of mind. How far is that jersey going to stretch? I don’t know. Just the fact of letting those people know we’ve got a heavy heart over here.”

Before the game, the Cleveland Indians hung a sign in the visitors’ dugout of Progressive Field. An Associated Press photo displayed the sign that read, “From our city, to your city. Our hearts and prayers go out to you, Boston. Love, Cleveland.” It wasn’t too extravagant. Nothing was overdone. It was simply etched on a white piece of paper with a red marker and hung on a clipboard that was attached to the wall.

Michael Dwyer / AP Photo A group of first responders to the Boston Marathon bombings hug on the dugout as the crowd applauds during a tribute in the fifth inning of a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Kansas City Royals on April 21, 2013.

On the same night, teams across Major League Baseball paid tribute to the people of Boston. Even our arch enemies showed the city of Boston some love. High in the air at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx hung a sign. That sign had the Yankees logo on one side and the Red Sox logo on the other side. Between the logos of the most intense rivalry in sports history read the words “United We Stand.”

Also, many MLB teams (including the Yankees) played “Sweet Caroline” on Wednesday, April 17. “Sweet Caroline” is played in the middle of the eighth inning at every Boston Red Sox home game. The shouts of “SO GOOD, SO GOOD, SO GOOD,” can be heard throughout Boston on the days of home games. And on that night, you could hear the same chants across the country.

The Boston Marathon is a tradition that will continue despite the tragedy. On the day of the bombing, the Boston Athletic Association released a series of statements. One of them read, “Boston is strong. Boston is resilient. Boston is our home. And Boston has made us enormously proud. The Boston Marathon is a deeply held tradition–an integral part of the fabric and history of our community. We are committed to continuing that tradition with the running of the 118th Boston Marathon in 2014.”

Some say sports are just a game. They question why some people get so emotionally involved every season. They tell us die hard, crazy sports fans that we are absurd for devoting so much time, effort and money to something that shouldn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

But this past week proves that sports are more than just a game to the people of Boston. Sports are a way of healing. Games are a three-hour experience where you don’t have to worry about what is going on outside of the stadium.  Sports are an outlet for us crazy Boston folk. And although the pain is not gone and may never leave, we have something to believe in. We have our teams that proudly wear their colors, with “Boston” across their chest. And they help the city of Boston send the message of, “We are Boston. We are strong. We are Boston Strong.”


Michelle Berthiaume can be contacted at


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