CHRISTOVICH: Congressmen Play Baseball Thursday Despite Tragedy in Alexandria
Helmet to Helmet

I woke up this morning to the news that there had been a shooting in Alexandria, Va., a community less than 30 minutes away from my home in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. News outlets reported that the shooter had opened fire at an early morning practice for Thursday’s congressional baseball game, injuring five people, including Republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

The shooter, 66-year-old James Hodgkinson, was apparently a politically active, anti-Trump and anti-Republican protester. Hodgkinson had allegedly asked whether the team consisted of Democrats or Republicans before opening fire, suggesting that Hodgkinson attacked the congressmen based on their political affiliation.

The purpose of the charity game, besides to raise funds, is to demonstrate goodwill and bipartisanship between the usually fiercely divided Republicans and Democrats in Congress. And there is no sport better to send this message than America’s historic pastime, baseball: a game far from perfect, but largely untouched by politics. Especially in the turbulent political climate in the District, this bipartisan baseball game held special significance for participants and spectators alike.

I am a sportswriter. I never write about politics. I hope to pursue a career in sports media, not only because I have a deep passion for sports — especially baseball — but also because I believe firmly in the role that sports play in our lives, from a daily distraction to a bonding experience, or even to a career. And while every single shooting, bombing or terrorist attack is tragic in its own right, I was especially struck today when I heard that this shooting had taken place on a public park’s baseball field and that it had targeted those looking to participate in a bipartisan charity game. I was struck when I saw a video released by CNN that depicted, through a chain-link fence, gunshots on a field flying over a motionless body lying on the dirt between first and second base.

I took a moment to imagine a baseball field in the early morning, one of the most beautiful images in all of sports. And then I imagined what that field in Alexandria must have looked like Wednesday morning. I imagined the bloodstained base paths; bats, gloves and helmets scattered throughout the field; personal possessions, such as one congressman’s wedding ring, lying in the dirt; and other innocent bystanders beginning their days and stopping to watch a lighthearted, morning practice now running for cover. As the shooter stood outside the field, the events of this morning created a sickeningly eerie reverse “Field of Dreams” image: Instead of a doctor outside the field who saved lives in the film, there stood a shooter actively taking lives.

I found myself again wondering how we are all supposed to react when tragedy invades the positive space of sports. I found myself asking similar questions to those I asked myself in the wake of the sudden death of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez: How do you treat a game — which is supposed to be an escape from tragedy — now stained with the worst kind of tragedy itself? How do you react when politically motivated acts of violence enter the sacred space of a bipartisan activity?

I do not have the answers to these questions, and I do not think anyone else does. But the congressmen’s decision to play Thursday evening at Nationals Stadium, despite the tragedies of Wednesday morning, exhibits the laudable dedication and the resilience that sports, and baseball in particular, can bring out in the wake of horrific situations.

If there is one thing that everyone can agree on now, whether political, not political, partisan or bipartisan, it is that we can all applaud the congressmen on Thursday for deciding not to hide — for deciding to play ball.

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2 Comments

  1. this is great. what a nice article

  2. Alt Right Hoya says:

    My guess is the liberal mass shooting will inspire more violence.

    Think about it, protests between left and right at places like Berkeley and elsewhere have moved from simple signs and chants to fist fights and the throwing of bottles and other forms of violence.

    Now, some crazy liberal inspired anti-Trump and anti-Republican hate speech so prevalent in the media and on-campuses like Georgetown has gone out and attempted to murder a bunch of people for the crime of thinking differently than him.

    Sadly, the left has ushered in a culture of violence. We all know they’re the ones shutting down speeches and threatening people. Just look at the violence in Chicago and San Diego when liberals assaulted Trump supporters, including women and children, who just wanted to see him speak.

    For every action there is a counter-reaction, and when more violence occurs (and it will), and liberals start dying the next time, they will have only themselves to blame. Had they not started the cycle hate and violence for those who express opinions different than them then we would be in a much better place right now.

    Welcome to the next American Civil War. What we saw this past week was the first shot.

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