Don’t you hate it when life gets in the way of sports? It’s supposed to be the other way around. Sports is meant to be our distraction from the real world. But don’t tell that to Celtics point guard and budding superstar Isaiah Thomas.
The day before game one of the Celtics opening round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls, Thomas’ sister Chyna was killed in a car accident. But in the warped reality of professional sports Thomas played in Game 1 and played well. What’s even stranger is that virtually no one was surprised he did.
But think about it. If you worked at a bank, would your co-workers and peers expect you to show up for work the day after somebody so close to you was tragically taken away?
Celtics forward Al Horford was widely criticized for missing a REGULAR SEASON game to be with his wife after the birth of his first son. When each of my sons was born, I took the full two weeks my company allowed me to take. HE TOOK A DAY!
Think about it. What these players do for a living really isn’t that important. At the end of the day, they’re putting a ball into a basket, a piece of galvanized rubber into a net, hitting a tightly-wound ball thrown at more than 90 miles an hour and throwing a pigskin around on a field. Yet their jobs are considered some of the most important in America.
Getting back to Thomas, he’s also played in Game 2 before flying home to his family to bury his sister. Then he’ll head back to Chicago to play Game 3. In situations like this, the reaction is always the same: my loved one would have wanted me to play in the game.
Remember when Brett Favre’s father died he was scheduled to play on Monday Night Football? He played and had arguably one of the best games of his career.
The man who used to be golf’s greatest, Tiger Woods, took nine weeks off after his dad’s death. Tiger was extremely close to his father and credits all of his success to him. So what did he do in his first tournament back? Nothing except win the British Open.
Last year, the entire Florida Marlins franchise was devastated when ace pitcher Jose Fernandez and two of his friends were killed in a boating accident. The next day, one of his best friends on the team, Dee Gordon, hit a lead-off home run in his honor and sobbed as he rounded the bases.
There are countless examples similar to these. But more often than not, the player plays, then grieves and that is what is expected of them. If that’s their choice, then fine. But let’s hope we never get to the point that an athlete gets guff for putting his family ahead of his sport. Let’s keep things in perspective. Sometimes life is more important. Even the most hardcore sports fan shouldn’t forget that.