Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Tim Dahlberg: Somber Days for Sports Fans

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Tim Dahlberg: Somber Days for Sports Fans

Article excerpt

It's supposed to be a place where we retreat from the realities of life, a place where we can immerse ourselves for a few hours in another world. Sports have always seemed to do that for us, even if the refuge they offer is temporary at best.

Lately, though, the playground just hasn't been that much fun.

We were reminded about it on a fall Sunday, where we said a melancholy goodbye to one towering figure and tried to deal with the pain of losing yet another. Vin Scully had just finished saying goodbye to an adoring crowd at Dodger Stadium when word came in that Arnold Palmer had died in Pittsburgh.

The day had already gotten off to a sobering start, when joy was snuffed out in Miami. The images of a speedboat crushed on rocks were horrific to wake up to, and the tragic death of rising of magnetic young star Jose Fernandez seemed incomprehensible and yet so utterly final.

Reality intruded, and it came at us like a Fernandez fast ball exploding into a catcher's mitt. Even the spectacle that is a Sunday in the NFL didn't seem the same on a day more suited to somber reflection than celebration.

Yet celebrate they did, in football stadiums around the country and in the stands at Dodger Stadium, where a dramatic walk-off home run to clinch the division was followed by Vinny singing goodbye to a crowd that didn't know whether to cry or scream themselves silly. Hollywood couldn't have scripted the end any better, but the reality was that after 67 years Vin Scully was walking off himself.

It's all part of the cycle of life, but that didn't make it any easier. I fought off tears myself watching at home with my sons, knowing that part of the soundtrack of my life wouldn't be heard anymore.

Maybe it's a generational thing, but for my generation it's been a tough few months. The heroes of our youth are fading away, and too many of them are passing away.

Baby boomers everywhere ache when they hear the news. It's always another reminder that nothing lasts forever, and that their own mortality is just as precarious as that of the people they cheered for so many years. …

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