Sports have played a role in boosting morale during times of stress and national tragedy in American history.
When baseball commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis asked the president if the national past time should continue after our nation entered World War 2, Franklin D. Roosevelt replied that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going. He noted that people who would be working longer and harder for the war effort and should have a chance for recreation to take their minds off their work for a few hours.
We remember how the Yankees and Mets' games provided healing moments for New Yorkers following the terrorist attacks on the city on Sept. 11, 2001. The recent bombings at the Boston Marathon also provided memorable moments at American ballparks.
Few matchups in sports can equal the Boston Red Sox - New York Yankees rivalry and yet the day after the Boston bombings, New Yorkers stood side by side in the Bronx with their American brothers in Beantown. Along with the message outside Yankee Stadium of "United We Stand," there was a moment during the third inning of their game with Arizona when the Yankees organization played Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline," a song very special to the fans of Boston's Fenway Park.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi put the game in perspective, stating: "We're behind them. Put the baseball teams aside. We want to be there for them."
Another recent inspirational sports story involves shot put star Cameron Lyle from the University of New Hampshire. On Wednesday, the fourth-year management student donated his bone marrow to a 28-year-old man who had been given six months to live.
During his sophomore year, Lyle joined a bone marrow registry along with many other athletes at the school. A few weeks ago, he learned he was a one-in-5-million match for a bone marrow transplant.
His choice was to either finish up his senior season of track, including the America East Championships, or give up the final meets of his college career so he could donate his bone marrow to a stranger suffering acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
After realizing the man has six months to live and he had the possibility to buy him a couple more years, Lyle said his choice was a no-brainer.
Lyle admitted that when he went to tell his coach about his decision, it felt like he had been called into the principal's office, but Coach Jim Boulanger already had his own solid perspective on the matter. He reminded Lyle that he could either compete at the conference championships, or give another man a few more years of life.
Finally, there's the inspirational story out of the University of Nebraska concerning Jack Hoffman, a 7-year-old pediatric cancer patient. It was Jack who brought more than 60,000 fans to their feet and was named the hero of Nebraska's spring football game in Lincoln.
Jack, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2011, has had two surgeries and was on a two-week break from his rigorous 60-week chemotherapy routine when his family received a call from the university stating that it wanted to get Jack involved in the spring game by having him run a special play.
Jack was suited up in full Huskers gear and in the fourth quarter entered the game. On a fourth-and-one play, he was handed the ball and with a full escort of blockers ran 69 yards for a TD. As he reached the end zone and the fans went crazy, Nebraska players lifted the boy onto their shoulders.
Jack's dynamic scoring play quickly received millions of hits on the Internet. One of the best game calls - http://www.cornnation.com/201/6/4191814/inspiring-cancer-fighter-jack-ho... - was made on the Cornhuskers' football network.
College football fan or not, as an American, it doesn't get much better.
By Jim Zbick