The sobering and appropriate reminder slapped me in the face Tuesday morning.

It surely was a beautiful morning, I mused, as I awakened.

Then, the jolt.

That was my exact thought on Sept. 11, 2011.

The morning was pretty much like that until a psychological darkness descended that changed our lives and the world, forever.

I remember the emotional gut shot when I saw an aircraft fly into the Twin Towers in New York. I remembered the horrific feeling when, while driving to work, I heard the second tower had fallen down.

There was an emotional draining weekend of tears everywhere.

There was a weekend in which a debate was launched as to whether playing football games represented an inappropriate distraction of a needed diversion.

And the sporting events that were played often represented sports at its best, as a fun diversion in the face of real life and death.

Yesterday, upon reflection, I was reminded of sports at its worst.

Fans around the state were still moaning and complaning of the incredible, agonizing loss by the Razorbacks in a football game to Louisiana-Monroe.

It was devastating in a sense, but not in the ballpark to what was felt by victims and their families 11 years ago.

Perspective hit as I thought about the degrees of winning and losing and success is measured in our society. Sometimes, the short-term fog and funk obscure the long-term clarity of the difference between games and life.

Here’s what else happened Saturday:

Tulane’s Devon Walker, who went to the same high school as University of Central Arkansas quarterback Wynrick Smothers, suffered a severe injury to a spinal cord after an ugly collision with a teammate in a game against Tulsa. His longtime prognosis is uncertain.

Arkansas’ Tevin Mitchell also was involved in another terrible collision with a teammate, strapped to a stretcher and carted off at War Memorial Stadium. His prognosis is more positive.

UA quarterback Tyler Wilson sustained an apparent concussion, putting his short-term and long-term future in question.

Folks are in the hospital with potential serious injuries and some folks are cussing out coaches and whining about a scoreboard.

And others talked of leadership and heroics.

Tuesday, I was reminded of a higher definition of heroes. Guys who run into burning and collapsing buildings (sometimes over and over). Folks who risk well-being and sacrifice lives in some cases to save others. Folks who volunteer for uniform service and those who work behind the scenes to try to assure that the events of 9-11 never happen again.

Also Tuesday, I witnessed two other things.

The family of Eric LaGrand, the Rutgers player who was paralyzed after a vicious collision a couple of years ago, reached out to Walker’s family (people they had not previously known), offering help and consolation in any way.

And Mitchell tweeted to his followers, "Just want to take a moment and give thanks to everyone who prayed for me bcuz your prayers worked. God is an awesome God!"

A beautiful Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, brought a fresh perspective to winning.

(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or