Today is a very difficult day for many and one of the darkest days in American history. The terrorist attacks of September 11th changed this great country and the world, forever. Each year I feel like someone writes something like this or similar to it, about how for a few hours, the nation could drift away into a sporting event and not have to focus all their energy on the tragedy. I wanted to take a crack at it because I feel a deep love for both my country and for sports.

9/11 is one of those things that I’ve been unbelievably and inexplicably¬†fascinated with since it happened. It is one of the toughest days of the year for many, many Americans and I am one of them. No, I did not lose any friends, family, or loved ones, but this day, this event, this tragedy always gets me. I break down and lose control of my emotions every single year, reading and watching the stories, pictures, and videos from that day. I tell my family all the time that if I were older when it had taken place, I would have been ready to enlist or¬†would have looked to enroll in a Military Academy. I felt that despite never even having been to New York in my life, it was a personal attack on myself, the people, and the country that I love. I was angry and wanted to do something to help.

Now obviously for anyone who knows me personally, that is not quite what happened. My path was in sports. There were numerous moments in the days, weeks, and months following those attacks that showed the magnitude and importance of sports in the healing process of our collective lives. The moment that continues to resonate the most with me is President Bush throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium.

There are so many things happening in this video. For one, the crowd is absolutely electric. When people talk about passionate fan bases, the Yankees faithful are certainly near the top of the list. But there was only one team playing that night, and it was the United States. As the President takes the field, I can’t even begin to imagine the nerves and pressure he’s feeling. And of course, he gets up there and fires a dart down the heart of the plate. Un-fucking-believable. His composure and calm demeanor are unforgettable. That pitch, that moment, that scene, will forever give me the chills. Because in that time, somehow and someway, I think we all knew that things would get better.

Sports have this incredible power to transcend everything that is going on in the world and give you an escape for a few hours. And sometimes, that brief reprise is what we need to move forward. Sports heal. And while some maintain the saying “it’s just a game”, on days like this, in situations like this, those games can mean everything, regardless of the result.

At the end of the day, we’re all Americans and the things that unite us, like sports, far outweigh those that divide us. May God Bless America and we will never forget those lost on this day in 2001.