Day Seventy-Eight: Boston.

by Tom Noonan

I woke up today with a moderate to severe hangover, the lingering residue of an unforgettable, yet somewhat forgotten, Masters weekend.  I gave my brother a call once I felt coherent to discuss what had unfolded on Sunday: the playoff holes, the matching shots, the close-calls and surreal breaks.  We both came back to one image, though, the one of Angel Cabrera giving Adam Scott a thumbs up after a particularly unreal shot on the second playoff hole.  During a moment built on unfathomable stakes, this was a sign of the human element of sports, of sincere gratitude for the gift of competition.

Then, today, there were two explosions at the finish line of the Boston marathon, and with them came the unraveling of my most personal relation to sports, the ensuing scene obscuring the image I’d been so struck by the day before.  It felt like the cornerstone to my very existence had been removed, and I felt like toppling.  Sports had always been my failsafe, my raft when the storm seemed unweatherable, and this was mostly because everyone I knew felt the same way.  If there was one absolute truth in my life, it’s that sports redeemed us and carried us from the depths.  It did this constantly, whether in little victories or miracles, sports were there to remind us what exactly it means to be human, an accurate measure of both physical and unifying immensity, where respect was implied but not always explicit.  Even when there wasn’t a team, there was still brotherhood.

But then I saw the runners working alongside response workers, pulling debris off the wounded.  I heard the stories of people who crossed the finish line but weren’t done, running to the nearest hospital to give blood.  Today someone or some group went looking for fear and only found courage.  They set out to destroy something beautiful but only exposed themselves to the true power of sport.

So the marathon will be run again, and again, and many more times after that.  And each time it will be a monument to remind us that hate is cowardly, that there’s strength in a thumbs up, and that miracles aren’t religious; they’re only human.