Vanstone: Sports can be a welcome distraction

The Humboldt Broncos’ bus tragedy has taught us so much about perspective and perseverance.

Results of games people play, as important as they may seem in the heat of competition, are unimportant in the larger equation.

“We sit here and talk about hockey all the time, but it’s nothing,” Regina Pats forward Jake Leschyshyn said Friday. “In the end, it’s just a game.”

But there is nonetheless a value to be attached to the games, and the people who are part of them.

While we mourn those who died in the April 6 accident, and keep in our thoughts the others on board who survived, we also appreciate all they have accomplished and everyone they have touched.

You read stories of people who were lost in the crash and realize how many lives they were able to enrich while involved with sports.

You learn of the survivors, and of their remarkable resilience, and are also in awe.

Their stories are routinely told outside the parameters of sports. The bus tragedy has dominated news reports for the last week.

It is often left to news reporters to document real life. In the sports department, we too often delude ourselves into thinking that the outcome of a sporting event is a matter of massive significance.

And, surely, these games affect people. Remember the merriment when Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant held the Grey Cup above his head on Taylor Field in 2013? Or the devastation when the Roughriders lost the 2009 Grey Cup simply because they had too many men on the field?

The latter outcome seemed to be too cruel, considering the Roughriders’ history of heartbreaking Grey Cup losses.

But guess what happened after the 13th-man debacle? The Roughriders and their legion of fans rallied around one another and persevered. Durant and company appeared in another Grey Cup game the following year, only to lose again, before prevailing in 2013.

In all cases, whether the response to the result was celebratory or solemn, the game was an escape — an opportunity to forget about the realities of life (bills, bills, bills) and enjoy something for a few hours.

At a time like this, don’t we need a distraction every now and then?

The Estevan Bruins, for example, returned to practice Monday. They clinched a berth in the SJHL’s championship series one day before the Broncos’ bus crashed into a semi-trailer truck while the team was en route to Nipawin for a playoff game against the Hawks.

On Wednesday, the SJHL’s board of governors decided that the season would resume, with Estevan meeting Nipawin. The best-of-seven championship series is to begin Saturday in Nipawin.

“The hockey element, over the last few days, has been more than therapeutic,” Bruins head coach and general manager Chris Lewgood said. “It has easily been the best thing that has gone on in the lives of our group.

“You could see it in the first hour and a half we were together on Monday night. The mood among the guys when they stepped on the ice was far different than when they came off.

“There was some laughter in the room and around the facility after the practice. You could see the big difference that it made, just to get back to some normalcy.”

And that is something we can all use right about now.

rvanstone@postmedia.com

twitter.com/robvanstone

 

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