There are some things in life more important than sports. The recent tragic events in Paris have me reminiscing about feelings and thoughts I had as a nine year old regarding such evil acts. I was in second grade at Novi Elementary School in Michigan when the Sept. 11 attacks took place. It was a typical morning, until I began seeing my teachers crying, students being brought home by their parents and an overall feeling of devastation throughout the school halls.
The day progressed and I caught glimpses of TVs displaying news coverage of the attacks in the teachers lounge. My nine-year-old mind began to think something truly awful happened, but confusion was the dominant feeling. An elementary school is normally a place of happiness, encouragement, and laughter. To this day I remember the eerily somber demeanor of all educators in the building.
At nine years old my interests included Pokemon cards, sports and Nintendo 64. The bus ride home on 9/11 was no different than any other. Pokemon trades were made, the Detroit Red Wings were discussed and we all dared each other to sit with the pretty girl who lived down the street. This all calmed me down. As I stepped off the bus I just thought, “what a weird day.” Then I proceeded to see my Mom’s face, and the somber vibes returned.
What happened next was a moment in life I will never forget. My mother describing to me what happened to our country.
“Some very bad people did something very bad and hurt a lot of people today,” she said. “They flew airplanes into buildings, but your dad is okay.”
My dad travels a lot for his work, and was currently on the road. My initial feelings were of joy that my Dad was okay. Then questions started to creep into my curious young mind. Why would anyone do this? I had never seen evil at the age of nine. I could not grasp how this could happen.
I turned on ESPN, my daily routine to this day, and saw nothing but big airplanes, like I had previously been on, exploding upon impact to the World Trade Centers. I was nine, why was this on ESPN? Where’s Stuart Scott? I continued to watch. I have always been inquisitive and wanted to know more about what was going on.
Osama Bin Laden was a name repeated as responsible for the attacks. For the first time in my life, I saw true evil, and it scared the hell out of me. Killing innocent people who did nothing to wrong you? I refused to go on an airplane for several years for family vacations.
Evil is a different word than say, psycho, crazy or deranged. I had seen people murdered on the news, amongst other despicable acts, but none struck me quite like 9/11 as a youngster. The malevolent Bin Laden was the first person to truly scare me as a child, he showed me what evil was, and I still do not understand the concept. How does one become so soulless?
My dad and I were supposed to attend a Toronto Blue Jays game the weekend following the attacks. The event was rightfully cancelled. I still had a million questions racing through my mind, and baseball didn’t matter.
Friday’s attacks in Paris reminded me I still do not have answers to the questions that ran through my nine-year-old mind. I received the alert regarding the attacks on my phone while driving to Indiana University to visit friends. It’s a six-hour drive, so I decided to pull over get some coffee and catch up on the news. The more I read about the attacks and how they were carried out made me sick. That same feeling I felt 13 years prior began to seep into my mind.
Thirteen years of life experience has done nothing to help me understand the pure evil it takes to perform such cowardly acts. The Islamic State is not going away, this was a stern warning of what is to come. It did not happen in the United States, but the same sense of fear is felt.
The Islamic State wants us to be afraid of their evilness, what they’re capable of. They want you to be afraid of walking out your front door. The difference between being myself at age 22, and myself at nine is I refuse to let a group of cowards (ISIS) scare me to the point I change how I live my life. If that happens, they’ve already won. The same attitude coincides with my views on mass shootings and gun control. The issue needs to be addressed, but I still went to the theater and saw Black Mass.
I do not know how to defeat a terrorist group. Truly, I mostly write about sports. I strongly believe those with the responsibility of preventing attacks such as Paris should be working diligently to do so. But as an average citizen, one cannot let evilness from a terrorist group instill constant fear. That’s no way to live.
Sports Chat Co-Founder