Monday, November 26, 2007

What's an appropriate fan reaction to an athlete's misfortune?

Sad news that Sean Taylor was shot early Monday and is in critical condition (1, 2, 3). And it appears that he is somewhat stabilizing after he lost massive amounts of blood.

As a fan though, the question remains: What is an appropriate reaction to an athlete's misfortune?

(It should go without saying, but I absolutely hope Sean Taylor recovers and is fine. Forget his football career, I hope he can be with his child and future wife again. Football would be an added bonus at this point.)

When it's an opponent and it's not life threatening, there is often times glee and excitement. At some point I'm sure I wished for some opponent to get injured as well, though these days I typically politely request a non-serious injury. Or as an old coach used to say, that the player is "hurt" and not "injured" (hurt meaning they can't play for a few minutes, injured meaning their arm is falling off).

When it is indeed serious, the rallying and support can be tremendous (witness DC and Redskin teammate/staff/ownership response, and it's pretty well known that Coach Gibbs is a religious man). Thoughts, hopes and prayers rush in. Media coverage abounds. And here in DC, our ESPN affiliate that is owned by Redskins mogul Dan Snyder

But do our famous athletes "deserve" this special attention? Is Sean Taylor getting better medical treatment because of his sports status? Is he getting it because of his wealth? (which at first blush seems the same, but if you can pay for better treatment...)

And then what about the sadder part, like say if Taylor were to regrettably not recover? As with many sports tragedies would we get shots of the next Redskins game with teary eyed fans? Taylor's loss would be regrettable, but more so than the other thousands who die everyday? More so than the other dozens (hundreds?) who get shot each day in a tragic event?

Taylor has a troubled past, not worth repeating. But all reports indicate he turned a corner on that a while back. Let's hope that tragedy didn't literally burst into his house and find him after he got on the straight and narrow.


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