The Boston Marathon bombing was the first act of terrorism on United States soil since Sept. 11, 2001. The men and women of the FBI, CIA and Homeland Security have done a wonderful job of protecting our civilians from threats just like this, but it would have been naive to have thought that we would be immune from another attack. Those agencies do more and thwart more threats than we will ever know, but the reality is that there is no way we would be able to stop every plot to take American lives. The bombing though, once again changes our perceptions on safety. While the casualty number was nowhere near what happened on Sept. 11, the psychological damage is similar. After Sept. 11, it was the fear to fly; now is it the fear to attend sporting events.
The harsh reality is that sporting events have always carried a high risk for potential acts of terrorism. It’s where the largest crowds gather in America. ESPN’s Mike Tirico said in a radio interview that the idea that our sporting events being potential targets is always on his mind when he attends one. This idea is something we often forget when we moan about the amount of time it takes to get into a stadium as men are wanded and women’s bags are checked. We often take for granted the amount of time and effort it takes to make sporting events safe. So the next time you’re about to complain about getting a pat down in line for a game, think about the moment you saw the bomb go off in Boston.
One thing that makes sports special is that it has become our baseline for normalcy. After Sept. 11, people all around the country tuned in to see the Yankees take the field for the first time. It was a moment that showed our country that it was OK to start returning to daily life. It also showed the world that our country’s resilience. The Boston Red Sox returning to Fenway Park was no different. A city rallied around the words of David Ortiz and 9 innings of baseball on a Saturday afternoon. It was their first step towards returning to normal and it happened at a sporting event. So while one sporting event brought terror and hurt in Boston, it was another sporting event that helped begin the healing.
America is a resilient country, always has been. The bombing in Boston is something that we will remember for a long time. It has opened our eyes to the reality of what challenges a sporting event presents in terms of safety. It showed us that there are those who still wish to hurt us. But it has also showed us that sports are a fabric of our way of life. Despite what happened, thousands of people will attend a Red Sox game this week, next week and next year. More importantly, people will return to run the Boston Marathon next year.