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April 18, 2013

Sports unites nation in time of need

Sports can unite people, begin the healing process


Rivalries are shelved in favor of athletes and fans standing strong — and united.

In Milwaukee Tuesday, the Brewers played the theme song from “Cheers” and displayed a message on the scoreboard honoring Boston.

“Any time a city is impacted by a tragedy like this, you want them to know that they aren’t on an island,” Brewers’ spokesman Tyler Barnes said. “This is something that hits everyone.”

The Chicago Tribune put Boston front and center on the front of its sport section Tuesday. A full-length black box read “We are Chicago,” followed by the names of each of Boston’s five major professional sports teams.

“It was one of those things, where our inclination was to say, ‘What can we do?’” said Mike Kellams, the Tribune’s associate managing editor. “We wanted to make a statement which tapped into the emotion of the city. Sports is just a part of the culture in Boston and Chicago.”

The tributes have even carried overseas.

At this Sunday’s London Marathon, there will be 30 seconds of silence before each of the three groups of runners departs. A social media campaign is urging runners to finish the race with their hands over their hearts in honor of the Boston victims.

At Yankee Stadium and other stadiums around baseball Tuesday, “Sweet Caroline” was played, as it is at every game at Fenway Park.

And when Boston beat the Indians at Progressive Field Tuesday, “Dirty Water” blared throughout the park, just as it does after Red Sox victories at home.

“Watching it, it was like the archrival has joined forces and can say maybe on the field we are rivals, but we have your back off the field,” said Heather Barber, an associate professor of sport studies at the University of New Hampshire. “Sports has the potential to lift us up when bad things happen.”

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