Perspective shifted dramatically that evening in the press box two years ago.
I was watching a high school state baseball championship game at the University of Central Arkansas’ Bear Stadium.
Someone checking social media on a smart phone changed the tone immediately with one statement.
"Wow. Joplin has just been destroyed by a tornado."
Joplin? Just a few hours northwest? Destroyed?
Suddenly, the tone shifted from balls and strikes, hits and errors.
That scene, that emotion came hauntingly to mind Monday.
Moore, Okla. was the new Joplin, the next chapter in how natural disasters (particularly involving children), can affect your mood, change the dynamic from fun and games.
Figuratively, it rips your guts out.
You rant, you cry, you shake your head. Then, suddenly you realize that nothing you can say, nothing you can write, is really adequate.
I can grasp the depth of what folks in Oklahoma are feeling. I know how I am feeling.
It’s bewilderment. It’s hurt.
Then, I saw a post about how Joplin officials are sending a team to Moore, Okla., to help with cleanup and restoration efforts, mentally and physically. They did it because of the response of other communities that had come to their aid two years ago. One of those communities included Tuscaloosa, Ala., which had also experienced tornado devastation. Folks in Tuscaloosa were comforted by those in Auburn, Ala., during their time of need, When it came to Joplin, the Alabama-Auburn hate line was dropped. It was people who had been hurt coming to the aid and comfort of other hurting people.
The Memphis Grizzlies had just finished an intense and volatile series with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA playoffs. But Memphis fans cast their braggadocio aside, several sending messages of sympathy and offers of help to those in Oklahoma. Thunder star Kevin Durant is leading one effort.
Intense rivalries melted into a vibrant stream of community.
We describe many feats in sports and the games we play as courageous.
Some are to an extent.
Then, you hear stories of teachers saving students, hugging them, comforting them in times of immense horror. You read about first responders risking life and doing extraordinary things in attempting to rescue folks (and even pets) from rubble. Bet no one asked who was an OU fan or an Oklahoma State fan or even a Longhorn fan.
Throughout the sports world, teams and individuals are putting rivals and games momentarily on hold to remember — and empathize and sympathize.
Sports "nations" are transformed to a broader nation.
Though the lens of our games (which we often view as life or death, where missed shots or bungled balls are considered disasters), we saw real disaster — and real life.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org)