Monday, February 18, 2008

When tragedy strikes

In Truro, NS, for a few days, which is why updates have been a bit sporadic (also, covering three different games Saturday didn't help, but more on that later). Saw something I felt compelled to talk about, though. The Windsor Star is reporting that 19-year old Windsor Spitfires' captain Mickey Renaud collapsed and died in his home today.

This is a huge tragedy for the Spitfires, the OHL, and Canadian hockey as a whole. It illustrates the here today, gone tomorrow nature of sporting potential and fame. One moment Renaud was a fifth-round pick of the Calgary Flames, captain of a respected junior team, and one of the team's best players with 21 goals and 41 points in 56 games: the next, his bright future inside or outside hockey is suddenly stripped away. The Romans perhaps summed it up best: sic transit gloria.

It's these events that break the "fourth wall" between athletes and regular people. There are far too many of them: one of the best cases is soccer, which has had four athletes die during games since last August: Sevilla's Antonio Puerta, Hapoel Beersheba's Chaswe Nsofwa, Motherwell captain Phil O'Donnell and FC 105 Libreville's Guy Tchingoma, who died just nine days ago. Lately, there was also the Bathurst tragedy. Perhaps what this evokes more than anything is the Swift Current crash, one of the last big tragedies to strike major junior. The junior and high school disasters are especially poignant, as these teenagers had so much potential still unfulfilled. These events require us to step outside the sporting lens for a moment, and reflect on the loss to the wider human community.

Related: The Globe's Allan Maki has a good story up on the subject. I first found out about this via a Canadian Press brief on the Globe's website, which has since been taken down. Also, Neate has an interesting post , with a link to an Associated Press story after the New York Marathon tragedy this fall pondering if athletes' heart testing is sufficient.

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