Greg Cote

Life’s tumult can make games seem small, but sports helps us regain our balance, normalcy

Dolphins fans cheer as the Miami Dolphins play the Atlanta Falcons in the first preseason game at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, Aug. 10, 2017.
Dolphins fans cheer as the Miami Dolphins play the Atlanta Falcons in the first preseason game at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, Aug. 10, 2017. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Perhaps this has occurred to you, too: Everywhere you look, the world is going insane.

Granted, this is the perspective of a man who, while writing this, after deciding not to evacuate, prays he will still have a roof on his house after Hurricane Irma and its Category 4 or 5 mayhem has barreled through South Florida.

“Can you promise me we won’t die,” one of my sons said to me.

I could not. I could talk about odds and impact windows, but I could not make that promise, no.

Oh, and Houston is still under water from its own natural calamity, by the way.

If only the havoc of extreme weather were our only peril.

There is a megalomaniacal dictator in North Korea who seems bent on nuclear war.

There is a man in the White House who is the most polarizing president of my lifetime, and whose poll ratings suggest epic unpopularity.

Much of black America does not trust the police.

Nazis and white supremacists, sanitized in the media as “alt-right,” march in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Hatred, prejudice and intolerance seem to have found a footing and to be moving forward, pushing us backward.

The line between sports and real life increasingly blurs, athletes as activists being heard. Someone who does what I do for a living constantly hears the admonishment, “Stick to sports!”

I’m not even sure what that means, when so many of the athletes I’m covering aren’t even sticking to sports.

With Hurricane Irma approaching Florida, the NFL decided to move the Dolphins-Buccaneers game to Week 11, meaning the teams will have to play 16 games in a row.

Here, too, though, our polarization is evident. Colin Kaepernick? He is a righteous hero to many for taking a stand by taking a knee during the national anthem. To many others he is vilified as un-American.

I read an analysis that guessed America might face some sort of new Civil War as soon as 15 or so years from now.

Meantime, senseless, heinous terrorist atrocities still explode … anywhere.

In the context of the tumult in our country and the world, rarely have sports seemed so small, so reduced in significance.

We have been reminded of that this week, the whole notion of “playing games” yielding to real life as the Dolphins’ Sunday home opener against Tampa Bay was postponed and the Hurricanes’ trip to Arkansas State canceled because of the awful path of Irma.

And yet, somehow, for me, sports may be more important than ever in our lives relative to the overarching worries that make them seem small.

The rhythm of seasons and schedules represent normalcy. What we can count on. Our teams — our teams — have the power to lift us and unite us as communities the way little else can.

Call it a diversion if you will. Maybe three hours at a Dolphins game is like two in a movie theater as we escape the real world for a little while.

As I write this I am terrified of what Irma might do to my community, of the deaths and destruction likely in its wake. What happened in Houston, what Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans, what Hurricane Andrew did to Homestead — this is the magnitude of my fears.

I also know that, when it is time, sports will be there to help us recover and get back to our lives.

As we call our insurance company and clear debris and neighbors help chain-saw that giant branch atop the car, we will still find moments in the coming days to anticipate Miami Hurricanes at Florida State, to look forward to the Dolphins’ delayed season opener, to wonder if Giancarlo Stanton can reach 62 home runs and to look forward to Heat season.

Sports is the hand that helps pull us from the ocean back onto the boat. How sweet the luxury of being able to debate with such passion the merits of Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler!

Real life can be brutal. It can be cruel and seem unfair.

There is so much good in it, too, of course. So much hope, always. So many reasons to look forward, to find optimism even when that’s so hard.

Thank goodness our teams and the games they play are such a big part of so many of our lives.

Even when a return to normalcy seems impossible, we know sports will somehow help us get there.

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