Writer: Boston Marathon tragedy hits home

Special to FOXSportsDetroit

I am nauseous.  Yet in the big picture, I am also lucky.

I am from Massachusetts, through and through.  As a sports fan living in Detroit, that’s meant celebrating Super Bowls, a Stanley Cup, an NBA title and, of course, multiple World Series championships.  I love my city.

Until yesterday, Boston “heartbreak” consisted of the Patriots losing two Super Bowls to the Giants, and the Red Sox’s collapse of the past two years.

None of that matters now.

At FOX Sports Detroit, we celebrate “April in the D”, with the Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons all playing at the same time.  Boston has all of those sports too.  But its “April in the D” type of celebration is highlight on Patriots Day — the third Monday of every April. 

The Red Sox always have an 11 a.m. game, as the Boston Marathon gets ready for an exciting finish.  The Bruins and/or Celtics usually play that night.

Patriots Day in Boston is like Christmas in April.  There really is nothing that tops it.  I went to college less than a 10-minute walk from the finish line. 

Back in the 80’s, the Marathon had a different identity.  American runners were some of the world’s elite.  Whether it was Olympians like Bill Rodgers and Joan Benoit (Samuelson), or some of the better known international runners, fans had an idea of who to route for.

Now, running in general gets much less exposure and the winners are less-known.  In 16 of the last 23 races, Kenyan men have been the winners.  No American woman has won since 1985.  But none of this mattered — the Boston Marathon was, and has always been about stories.

There are all types of people running for all types of causes such as to fight cancer, or in memory of someone.  There’s old runners in their 70’s, and young teenagers.  Men, women, marathoners with disabilities, “celebrity” runners, and each one of these people has a story.

What’s great about the marathon is that for every runner, there are multiple fans.  It can be a relative, friend, or someone they’ve never met.  The fans provide cups of water, orange slices, and most importantly, support.   Folks train for months, and whether it’s a lifelong goal or just another workout, running a marathon is a triumph of the human spirit that not many of us will ever experience.

It’s that triumph, the innocent joy that was taken from all of us on Monday.

In my opinion, Boston is the greatest city in the world, both for sports, and otherwise.  There’s no place I’d rather grow up and spend my college years.  The intensity of the fans, the determination, the sense of community is what’s now on display.

This is what we need to tell our children.  The great thing about our country, the great thing about Boston is our resiliency. 

First, the government will find out who is responsible for the bombings.  I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.  It may take days, it may take months, but there’s no question the terrorists will be identified and punished.

But the second lesson is the way people come together in time of need.  Us east coasters are supposed to be type “A” personalities with a grizzled hard edge.  Midwesterners are more friendly, gentle, caring.  But as 9/11 showed us 12 years ago, and Boston is showing us now, is that we are all part of something bigger. 

Think about the first responders and regular citizens who ran towards the explosions instead of away from them, right into harm’s way.  Why did they do it?  They did it because other the victims were hurt, they needed help.  There was no way of knowing whether there would be even more bombs, but it didn’t matter, when our neighbor is in need, we help.  It might be as simple as wrapping a wound, or it could be giving CPR.  It doesn’t matter where we’re from, who we voted for or anything else — when help is needed, we give it.

The Boston Marathon will never be the same, we all know that.  Security will be tighter, and everyone will be on edge.  But the winners of this and future races won’t only be who crosses the finish line first, but the people who show up for others.  That’s the true human spirit.