Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sports reach beyond the field of play

Clevelanders are not shy about expressing themselves when it comes to their sorrows (lots of them) and joys (not so many) over the Browns, Indians and Cavs.
We gripe about players and owners often and aren't shy about sharing our opinions on what should/could be done differently to bring home those elusive championship trophies.
And still, sometimes, it's easy to forget that professional sports have meaning far beyond the field of play for lots of us.
I was particularly reminded of that when reading Sean Manning's memoir about his mother's last months battling illness.
In "The Things That Need Doing," Manning chronicles his stay at his mom's Cleveland Clinic bedside.
He tells how he left his life in New York for more than a year to be with his mother back home in Northeast Ohio. He details the often baffling world of modern-day medicine. And he shares the struggles of grappling with being the sole decision-maker.
But this is not a what-a-great-son-I-am tale or what-great-doctors-we-have-in-Ohio piece, though that's true.
Instead the reader (at least this reader) comes away with the sense that sometimes we get through the awful times just by doing those things that need to be done. These are not the times for philosophy and discussion; we just do what we must.
And one of the things that not only helped Manning cope through the trying times but also was part of that fabric of family life, was sports.
As he writes:
For us, therefore, a lot more was riding on the Cavs' playoff success than bragging rights or decades' worth of redemption. Every game, every series won ensured a few more days of anticipation, a few more treasured opportunities for escape. In one of those uncanny consequences that seemed to punctuate the entire ordeal, not only did the G-and-J tube procedure fall on the same date Mom turned fifty-nine; that night was game five of the Eastern Conference Finals versus the top-seeded and heavily favored Detroit Pistons. And given the outcome of the procedure, the need for distraction was greater than ever.
 That's the kind of thing that sports can provide that has nothing to do with success on the field.

- Tricia Ambrose

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