Now more than ever, we need sports

The power that sports holds is unique, as it is competitive and heavily rooted in communities. After major events that resulted in a large loss of life or a major disaster, people have historically come together through the practice of sports. But with the coronavirus putting an end to sports seasons across the world, people cannot heal as fast without the sense of community that sports bring. A system where professional leagues can resume play must be made in order for the country to unite and heal the nation. The best example of this comes from right here with the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

After the events of the Route 91 shooting on Oct. 1, 2018, which left 58 dead and more than 500 injured, Golden Knights players donated blood to help those injured, even though many players had only been residents of the city for a few months. During their first few games, the team held memorials for the victims.

 Throughout the entire inaugural season, the Golden Knights gave people something to cheer for with an amazing performance, making it all the way to the fifth game of the Stanley Cup Finals, just falling to the Washington Capitals. Their performance gave people a reason to support the team and unified the people of Las Vegas after such a terrible tragedy. 

Outside of the sport itself, Deryk Engelland, a Vegas Golden Knights defenseman, began his charity named “Engelland’s Vegas Born Heroes Foundation” which finds members of the Las Vegas community and donates sums of money to their organizations or the people directly. The people who are often recognized by the charity are law enforcement, first responders and other local heroes. 

Another noticeable example of the unifying power of sports is with the New York Yankees, when George W. Bush threw the first pitch only weeks after the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Thousands of Americans gathered at the arena, and millions watched live on television as the president threw the pitch, reassuring the American population that they were all in the fight together, a stance that Americans rallied behind at the time. The sport gave the scared American population hope and strength because it was the first time the sport of baseball returned to New York City since the attacks on 9/11. 

The Yankees played throughout the rest of the season, making it to the World Series. Facing the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Yankees ended their season in defeat after game seven, after a 3-3 series tie. The ability for the Yankees to provide such a long season and series for the fans in New York gave the people a strong sense of unity after the world-shaking event that happened in their city that same year. 

Another major instance comes from Boston, when in 2013, the 116th Boston Marathon was bombed by the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda. After the attack, the city of Boston was devastated, and one of the major ways that the city recovered was through holding another race, with the recovered injured runners from the initial race, finishing. This was symbolic of the struggle that they endured during that bloody day and, in turn, inspired the healing city.

The Olympic Games have been a historic display of national unity behind sports. One of the most famous examples of this national unity at the Olympic Games was between the United States of America and the Soviet Union in 1980. The Soviet Olympic Hockey team had been gold medalists in every one of their attempts since their conception in 1956. This was until the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics, where the US and USSR met in the semi-finals in New York. Dubbed the “Miracle On Ice,” the US overcame all odds and defeated the Soviet team 4-3, and then the Finnish team at a score of 4-2. 

During this time in the United States, the nation was fractured politically due to the Iranian hostage and oil crises, as well as the Cold War nearing its height. The defeat of the Soviet Team by the United States showed not only the citizens of the US, but the world, that people can come together and achieve the impossible. Also, the people of the United States rallied behind the victory and celebrated their superiority over the Soviet Union, strengthening national identity. 

Now, that is not to say that there isn’t unity in outlets such as music and movies. 

Rather than other mediums in which people unify, such as music, sports are unique. Sports are based around competition, and people of cities unify to defeat other cities in athletic tournaments. This itself gives a reason for unification rather than just for enjoying an art due to the possibility of both loss and victory.

Sadly, in one of the worst pandemics in recent history that was caused by the coronavirus, the sports world has been suspended with no sign of them coming back any time soon. Of course, it is reasonable why: The leagues want to stop the spread of the virus.

But now, the country cannot heal at the same rate as Boston, New York or Las Vegas did with their sports teams due to the suspension. The country needs their teams back as soon as possible.

In order to see this through, the professional leagues need to set up a system where teams can continue to play and not have to worry about anything to do with the virus. Ban fans from being in the arena, or prevent reporters and journalists from entering the locker room — anything. We just need the one thing that can heal and unite the country during the worst pandemic in the 21st century.