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Do sports heal? Fans split on "a lot" vs. "a little" (so what do civilians say?)

As part of a package of 9/11 coverage, in Do sports heal?, ESPN the Magazine polled readers--by definition, fairly intense sports fans--and found, as the graphic below indicates, a plurality said sports helped a lot, another significant chunk said sports helped a bit, and nearly one-fifth said it made no difference.

I suspect that civilians less interested in sports expect lesser healing. I'd also bet that respondents to ESPN skew male and younger rather than female and older.


The print magazine excerpted several online comments. I've picked a few myself.

Apostles of healing
ChadSmith5
For a few hours, the stress and anxiety leaves your mind, and you feel "normal" again.

DarrinBTR
After Hurricane Katrina, i lost everything. Had to start over; just like the Saints did after Katrina. It took me years to get back to the stability i had before Katrina; wish i could say just like the saints, lol. The year the saints won the super bowl was also the year my life came back together.

detroithomer4
Their is a lot of behavioral psych. research that proves this concept. Sports can at very least be a distraction in one's life, that can help them cope with loss, burnout, or just being cooped up in the house all winter. In addition, sports can give fans and participants a sense of belonging and identity. I coach basketball. I have had countless parents tell me about how "little Johnny" is doing better with this and that since he joined the team.

JonnyHomeSlastic
Sports are an outlet for people, because, for however long the game/match lasts, people are fixated on the drama, intrigue and competition of others. It's a, for lack of a better word, distraction and adduce to the phrase "ignorance is bliss." For that brief moment, people are only interested in the sport, not the economy, disease, terrorism, etc. It's a beautiful thing.

JesseThomasCooper
Sports is my sanctuary. Whether im on the court ballin, on the couch watching MNF, drafting a fantasy team, or at the bar engaging in heated talks with opposing fans, i can always escape the stress and tribulations of everyday life by immersing myself in the sports world. It certainly doesnt hurt to be a Steeler fan either!!! GO BLACK AND GOLD!

NYPDBLUE87
It's more than just New Orleans. What about Virginia Tech football the first game after the Massacre. Or the Patriots winning the Super Bowl just a few months after 9/11. Or the Japanese Women's Soccer Team winning the Word Cup after the earthquake. It's so much more than a game. Don't ever let yourself believe that BS that it doesn't mean anything and it's just for fun. It's life.
No panacea
live2dive82
Sports heal like federal bailouts help the economy. It's a stop gap to to stop the bleeding with out addressing the wounds. Getting a sense of normalcy is a great distraction, like a joke at a funeral, but overall we pretend to move on and remember what distracted us and not what should've been are real focus.

mikeebertz
Sports don't help healing at all. They take a person's mind away from the reality of life, when they should be focused on solutions to problems and not upon escapism. So, sports help in the same way that video games, reality TV, and superhero movies do, temporarily, but not in actuality.

dmg_83
I have Cystic Fibrosis, I'm gonna die young. Do not pity me, I do not fear death at all. Asking if sports heals to me is a huge no. Sports will not heal the wounds my disease causes nor will it bring back loved ones lost. All sports and any other form of entertainment can do is help to take your mind off the pain. It changes nothing when it comes to cold hard facts of life.

I really enjoy sports, I am just a realist. I don't expect more then what it is. When my S.F Giants lost the World Series in 2002 I was bummed out for a day or so then got on with my life. When they won last year I was happy for a day or two. Yet nothing about my situation changed, I went on with my life.
The convergence

On reading the above, it strikes me that the two camps aren't that far apart. There are those who believe that sports serve as distraction to help with healing. And there are those who believe that sports serve as distraction to simply provide a time out in the healing process.

Daily News columnist Mike Lupica, in today's The sports world offered a needed break in the days after 9/11 tragedy, encapsulated those two camps:
We talked a lot in those first days 10 years ago about what sports could do and what it couldn't and how it might help us feel just a little bit better about things. We would see during the World Series how true that was, when we would try to escape the horror of downtown Manhattan with uptown baseball in the Bronx that will never be forgotten.

Tino's home run. Brosius' home run. Derek Jeter becoming Mr. November one night after midnight. It is impossible to believe that the old place was ever louder than it was on those nights and in those moments, when sports wasn't an escape so much as it was a way for us to trick ourselves into believing that the world was the way it had been on Sept. 10. And Sept. 9. And Sept. 8.

...Sports mattered as much as it ever had in those days and not one bit more than it should have.

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