Monday, April 16, 2007

Sports an afterthought as VT mourns

By Jared Trexler
The Phanatic Magazine
It seems like ages ago, yet today is remembered so vividly. My parents, friends and girlfriend can all attest to my absent-minded nature. I forget at times what I just ate for lunch.
But almost four years ago, deeply determined for a career in architecture, my brother uttered words to me that strike home on this Monday afternoon.
"I think I might apply to Virginia Tech."
Then, the pictures of this Virginia campus conjured images of College Town, USA. Today -- April 16, 2007 -- the pictures conjure images of Littleton, Colorado.
The scene looked eerily surreal from the cell phone video provided by a college student running for his life. A morning that can only be described as deathly historic, a shooting that will topple the horrific massacre at Columbine High School, blasted Virginia Tech's campus beginning at approximately 7:30 a.m. (et).
The video of armed officers hiding behind trees as the sounds of rapid fire echoed through Blacksburg looked like something out of a World War II documentary, except it was happening in the throws of learning, rattling the lives of not just students and families -- but a country.
Before all is said and done, it will likely go down as the single deadliest shooting by one gun man in this nation's history.
The Sixers may get stuck at the wrong end of the draft lottery. The Phillies may fire Charlie Manuel at the end of another disappointing April. The Flyers may throw a pile of money back at Peter Forsberg in the offseason. Andy Reid may even grow a spine before training camp at Lehigh.
It all is mute at the moment. When the smoke literally settles -- after President George W. Bush address the nation -- following endless tears and days dressed in black, the country will again look for a uniting force, much like it did during the days and weeks following 9/11.
They will find it in sports -- America's glue. The only form of entertainment and daily release where fans of different teams, from different walks of life, with political views on opposite ends of the spectrum can sit side-by-side at the corner tavern and cheer like hell over an ice cold brew.
Balls, bats and Shane Victorino attempting to steal third base with Ryan Howard at the dish will again restore life's daily order. We at The Phanatic Magazine will again have a purpose on our web home.
Until then, sports takes a back seat. We as sportswriters step back from the normal fray. A 7:05 p.m. (et) first pitch at Citizen's Bank Park doesn't seem as important anymore.
It can rain for weeks -- postponing days of games -- for all I care. To hell with baseball, until we need it again.
All I can think about at the moment are the mothers and fathers, boyfriends and girlfriends, classmates and fraternity brothers who are no longer the same. One of this country's prized university's is no longer the same.
Thank God, life for me remains the status quo. My brother didn't attend Virginia Tech. I didn't have to make a phone call Monday morning hoping he was on the other end.
Others weren't so lucky. The phones kept ringing to an answering machine message containing the lasting voice of a young man or woman with a full life ahead of them.
Until Monday. And I'm so sorry.
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Jared Trexler can be reached at jtrexler@phanaticmag.com
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