The last few days in sports have produced bummers.
Death hit us in batches.
Three instances illustrated how incidental these games we get so passionately involved. Another illuminated the value of a sports figure beyond the realm of sports.
It was humbling Wednesday. Within a minute on social media, I saw three pictures of three different groups of people forming a prayer and memorial circle and doing special things like releasing balloons in honor of a sports figure who suddenly died.
Springdale High football star Kyler Williams was killed in an automobile over the weekend. Just a month ago, Williams, a wide receiver, caught two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to lead the Bulldogs to a 37-30 victory over Conway in the season opener. The Springdale football program, as well as the high school and community, was numbed.
From all indications, Williams was a fine young man as well as a gifted athlete.
Last weekend, Jose Fernandez, one of the best young pitchers in baseball and a widely respected and popular player, was killed in a boating accident. All of baseball is in mourning.
Then Tuesday, Jorre McMahan, a promising young football coach at Hampton High School, died after collapsing on the practice field. Coaches throughout the state were shaken and stunned.
Within days, we witnessed how fragile life is, how often scores and statistics don’t matter in the grand scheme,
Another reminder we should appreciate every day, every relationship, every moment.
Now, to Arnold Palmer, one of golf’s greatest and most popular icons who died Sunday at age 87.
Palmer had been in ill health for awhile so the development is not shocking. We had time to prepare.
We can remember all the times he inspired us. For myself, like many others in my generation, we got interested in golf because of Arnold Palmer — because of his success, his shotmaking ability and most of all, his personality, which was infectuous.
Arnie’s Army, his gallery of followers at every tournament, elevated professional golf from a niche to prominence. The classy rivalry among Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player showed us how captivating and fun golf can be.
Palmer’s magical connection with the regular fan was infectuous. He backed that up with performance and the way he treated others, even as an elder statesman.
I’ll go out on a limb and make a statement right now. America will win the Ryder Cup because the Americans will passionately try to win it for Arnold. It’s extra motivation — an additional celebration of his life and career.
With the death of stars who left us way too soon, we were hit with a different perspective of the importance of the games we play.
With Arnold Palmer’s career, we saw how one individual can inspire us— both on the course and beyond.
With all of these events, we saw how the games we play, if we put them in the right perspective, can unify, inspire us and educate us in several ways and with many emotions.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org)