Do sports heal?
9/11's effects are immeasurable, so is it even possible to know how much sports have aided our recovery? We asked readers on ESPN.com. Here's what you said.
This story appears in the Sept. 19, 2011 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
"They're a distraction and add to the phrase 'Ignorance is bliss.' For that brief moment, people are only interested in the sport, not the economy, disease, terrorism, etc. It's a beautiful thing." -JonnyHomeSlastic
"I think sports do heal. They bring us Americans closer together and give us a sense of unity. The kindness on and off the field. 'The Star-Spangled Banner' before every game. Remember the fallen heroes in battle who gave their lives so that we may be free and go to games. I'm sure there were times they wished they were back home watching football in their La-Z-Boy." -KevinT197030
"Sports heal like federal bailouts help the economy. It's a stopgap for the bleeding without addressing the wounds." -Live2dive82
"Mike Piazza's home run off of Steve Karsay back on Sept. 21, 2001, will go down as the greatest home run in the history of New York baseball. It doesn't matter if you were a Mets fan or a Yankees fan, that blast to centerfield gave everyone chills and a sense of recovery." -Ventura214
"In cases like 9/11 and Katrina, sports provide a sense of unification. That, to me, is a huge help!" -Jdisawe
"My 65-year-old mother, who walked five miles a day and skied frequently, died suddenly last Thanksgiving. We enjoyed all outdoor activities together as well as Rockies games. I had written a personal note to include in the casket. Unfortunately for me, I had all my football bets on the back of that note. With all the emotion involved, I could remember only one bet, and I placed it the following day. I sat by myself laughing a bit, as she loved the action. I let my winnings from all season ride on that one game, and it came in. I could only sit in peace knowing she was happy. I'm pretty sure my other bets were losers." -Higuy449
Sports are so much more than a game." -- NYPDBLUE87
"Although it may not heal us in times of emotional distress, it provides a healthy release." -WjVpUd16
"It's more than just New Orleans. What about Virginia Tech football the first game after the massacre? Or the Japanese women's soccer team winning the World Cup after the earthquake? Sports are so much more than a game. Don't ever let yourself believe the BS that they don't mean anything and that they're just for fun. It's life." -NYPDBLUE87
"Sports do help heal people emotionally if they let them. After Hurricane Katrina, I lost everything and had to start over just like the Saints did. It took me years to get back to the stability I had before Katrina. The year the Saints won the Super Bowl was also the year my life came back together. In the final seconds of the game, I cried because I felt like I could emotionally move forward with my life without looking back and constantly harping on all the negativity." -DarrinBTR
"In the past week, I have been robbed, got in an accident, broke my computer and got dumped by my girlfriend. It's been a rough week, but the one thing that was able to bring me out of the dumps and cheer me up was seeing Jim Thome back in an Indians uniform." -Tribefan9692
"No matter what is going on in your life, sports are a constant." -Jeter31397
"What if your pain comes from watching the Cubs? Then you watch the Cubs lose, so the pain gets worse? Then what? I'll tell you what ... life stinks worse than billy goat crap and dead black cats mixed with stale Old Style." -Donespn1
"In 1997, I was 7 years old and was diagnosed with ALL [acute lymphoblastic leukemia]. My favorite team in the world was the Denver Broncos, and my favorite player was John Elway. Throughout my treatments in the hospital, I closely followed the team. Not only did this help keep my mind off of what I was going through, but it also gave me something to look forward to every single week. For some reason, I knew Elway was going to take us to the Super Bowl that year. I never lost faith. No matter if we blew a team out or lost by a smidge, I knew we were going to win it all in the end. The Super Bowl just happened to be on when I was just about at my sickest. Elway finished and won the game. In my mind, that Super Bowl was for me." -Guitarist4life09
Sports heal like federal bailouts help the economy." -- Live2dive82
"I have cystic fibrosis. I'm gonna die young. Do not pity me. I do not fear death at all. Asking if sports heal to me is a huge no. Sports will not heal the wounds my disease causes, nor will it bring back loved ones lost. All that sports and any other form of entertainment can do is help take your mind off the pain. It changes nothing when it comes to cold, hard facts of life. I really enjoy sports. I am just a realist. I don't expect more than what it is. When my Giants lost the World Series in 2002, I was bummed out for a day or so and then got on with my life. When they won last year, I was happy for a day or two. Yet nothing about my situation changed, and I went on with my life. Sports are a form of escapism -- they can help take the mind off your problems. They are like painkillers. They disguise pain, yet the pain is still there." -Dmg_83
"Sports don't help healing at all. They take a person's mind away from the reality of life when they should be focused on solutions to problems, not escapism. So sports help in the same way that video games, reality TV and superhero movies do -- temporarily but not in actuality." -Mikeebertz
"They absolutely heal. From September of '06 until April of '07, my brother was in Iraq. The Yankees in particular gave me a distraction from what was going on for those few hours." -Ellande31
"As a Cleveland sports fan, they really just add to emotional distress." -Epop2010
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