When we talk about the occurrence of tragedy during a sporting event, we’re typically referring to something that isn’t actually tragic. It might be a bullpen blowing a save, a missed shot on an open net, a failed uncontested layup, or a shanked field goal attempt. We use inaccurate terminology as a means of describing the goings on of a sport because it’s a vicarious experience for us. We suspend our understanding of reason for three hours and allow what’s ultimately a distraction from our day-to-day inanities to take over, entertain us and allow others on the field of play to be vessels for living out our own fantasies.
If the language we use to describe this event enters the realm of hyperbole, it’s not merely a coincidence. It’s all part of the charade. It’s part of the ritual we use to fully immerse ourselves into the distraction. This also includes the morbid: he murdered that ball; they’re killing him out there; that crossover left him for dead. The use of such terms seems silly and grotesque when serious incidents awaken us from the suspension of our belief and the distraction that we willingly allow while watching sports.
Toronto Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ was hit in the head by a line drive and taken off the field on a stretcher with one out in the second inning of his team’s eventual 6-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field. The last half of that sentence seems very unimportant.