Sports tragedies hurt greatly, but why? Your thoughts

I’ve got a question for you, but first consider this . . .

A fishing trip involving four buddies. High seas causing their boat to flip. One survivor found more than two days later. The Coast Guard eventually calling off the search for the other three.

It’s already a sad story. This makes it worse: Sports figures are involved.

Is it fair that all tragedies aren’t created equal? No. Still, rightfully or wrongfully, that’s just the way it is, and that’s the way it always will be.

Whether it’s Knute Rockne’s plane crashing in a Kansas cornfield, or Lou Gehrig succumbing to a strange disease, or Len Bias overdosing from cocaine, or Reggie White’s death out of nowhere on the day after Christmas, the intensity of these tragedies is greater given the athletic involvement of the victims.

As a result, the news from the Gulf of Mexico since last weekend has captivated the entire world.

You’ve seen the shocking yet inspiring sight of former South Florida football player Nick Schuyler clinging to the overturned boat with his raincoat and lifejacket. His old teammate, Will Bleakley, remains missing, along with Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquis Cooper and free agent defensive end Corey Smith, who played for the Detroit Lions last season.

If these weren’t athletes or former athletes, would we care? Yes. We just wouldn’t care as much — unless we had a personal relationship with those involved.

Athletes are supposedly invincible, which is why we are stunned and riveted when we discover they aren’t.

I keep watching this tragedy, and I keep thinking of March 1993. That’s when two of three Cleveland Indians pitchers in a boating accident were killed during spring training. I was covering the Braves in Florida at the time, and I drove to Winter Haven, where there was a memorial service for the deceased pitchers. The service was held in an auditorium next to the Indians’ old spring home in Winter Haven. The place was packed and emotional.

Hopefully, with the families of Schuyler’s three fishing partners still continuing the search, there won’t be such a place that is packed and emotional this time.

That would mean Schuyler’s three fishing partners were found alive.

All of that said, what tragedy involving a sports personality affected you the most, and why was it so difficult to handle?

34 comments Add your comment


March 25th, 2009
12:10 pm

Your columns always appear to have a racist tone to them. The reason there aren’t many African/American athletes in base ball is the season is too long. There are 162 games in a season. Football only has 16 and basketball only has 82. The brothers don’t want to work that hard.


March 6th, 2009
11:30 pm

I think the search was handle prematurely, with no confidence at all, but the rescue team did do well with displaying alot of hope. Which is good for nothing, when you have role models/players lost at sea hope is what they needed, hope is what they were looking for, but yet there hope was realied on Trained Professionals who’s training was based on hope. hope is hopeless with out proper training, without proper navigation, without proper preparation. None of these where displayed only hope. No HELP from the NFL, No HELP from other COAST GUARDS from surrounding cities. I guess they where to busy with there on problems its the Gulf Of Mexico its not the Pacific or the Atlantic. The NFL I understand its DRAFT SEASON


March 6th, 2009
7:33 am

One is always astonished by the extraordinary ignorance and hostility of Georgians for the most part – and these are the ones that can write. Mr. Moore places a thoughtful question and is answered with ridicule. No wonder we lost the Civil War.

Now, the answer to Moore is clear – any time someone the Gods have favored is laid low, it has the elements of tragedy. In their youth, sports figures have what seems to be a free pass in life – health, vitality, money, adoration from strangers. When it is snatched away and they are revealed to me as mortal as we are, our reverie is shattered.


March 6th, 2009
6:36 am

It is only because the press(i.e. you) keep it on the front burner, otherwise it would go the way of the wind just like any other death.