Friday night I went out to Osbourn High School in Prince William County to watch the Osbourn Eagles host the Woodbridge Vikings. At the beginning of the season I circled this game as the week that I would spotlight top defensive recruit Da'Shawn Hand. That was the plan...until I got there.
Some things are bigger than football.
The game was at 7:30PM. I was walking up to the stadium around 7:20 and there was nothing but silence. I had arrived just in time for the moment of silence that was being observed for Kenny Diaz. Diaz was a Sr. Linebacker for Woodbridge who was fatally stabbed earlier this week. I had heard about the tragedy earlier in the week. The Washington Post reported the story including multiple arrests (Read the Story Here) Diaz was in the middle of a very unfortunate situation, but my story is not about the events that led to his death, it is about how sports can be an outlet, a release in difficult times.
The funeral for Kenny Diaz was held earlier in the day - the same day as the game. I was surprised that the game was not postponed, but the Vikings came to play - to fight for Kenny. During the first quarter Osbourn got out to an early lead. The Vikings looked deflated and exhausted. Something happened, and they began to play inspired football right before halftime. It was a three point game going into halftime. During halftime, the Woodbridge fans held a candlelight vigil. You can see the picture I took below.
The Vikings Defense did not give up a score the entire second half. Led by Da'Shawn Hand the defense was unmovable. The inspired play that was sparked at the end of the first half carried over and the Vikings came from behind to win 17-14. Hand had a stellar second half and at one point in the third quarter had three consecutive tackles for loss. The events at the game were a true display of solidarity for the Woodbridge Vikings, and it was a classy reception by the Osbourn Eagles.
This started getting me thinking about other events in the past, where sporting events have provided a release in times of trouble. The first event that comes to my mind is 9-11. Everything stopped for a few days after the attacks. When it was time to move forward as a nation, there was baseball in New York City. It was such an important symbol the president came to throw out the first pitch.
More recently, after the Boston bombings, there was a hockey game hosted by the Boston Bruins. The entire arena broke out into song and sang the National Anthem in unison. The YouTube video went viral immediately.
There is something about sporting events that gives all participants including players and fans a sense of community, a place of solace. Sporting events are something we can participate in and they have meaning to us. Meaning beyond the trials and tribulations of real life.
RIP Kenny Diaz.
From my vantage point,
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