Sports are supposed to be fun, the toy department of life. The past few days, we’ve been surrounded by big games and season-defining storylines — and it hasn’t been fun at all.
The headlines of real life have been too powerful, too devastating, too close to home.
Four University of Idaho students stabbed to death last weekend in a home near campus.
Three University of Virginia football players shot to death, also last weekend, by a former player. On Saturday, a game in the football stadium was replaced by a memorial service in the basketball arena.
This weekend, there was a murder on the University of New Mexico campus. A 19-year-old student is dead and a New Mexico State basketball player, in town for a Saturday game against the Lobos, was involved in the double shooting, according to police.
So hard to believe, even in these crazy days, and so hard to focus on sports, the outcome of a game and what’s next on the schedule when we’re gut-punched by tragedy, anger, sadness. And questions of why, Why, WHY?
Sports are supposed to be a distraction for the hard stresses of life. Not this week. Too much emotion. Too much pain.
It was a week we have never experienced before, with rare and bittersweet evidence found Thursday night on the Boise State campus. Braving miserable cold on a miserable night, a few hundred Broncos held a candlelight vigil, sending prayers and love to Vandals everywhere.
Boise State president Marlene Tromp, usually decked out in blue and orange, wore the Vandals’ official colors of black and gold. “Today, our long-standing rivalry is set aside,’’ she told the crowd. “Today, we come together to create light in a painful and dark time. We are all Vandals.’’
Say that during a Boise State-Idaho football game, if they still existed, and you might get beat up. Say that this week, and there’s nothing but love, hugs and tears.
The Boise State football team, focused on its own business, flew to Laramie, Wyoming, for a game. The Broncos beat the Cowboys on Saturday night, clinched a division championship, and will host the Mountain West Championship Game on the blue Dec. 3.
I can’t stop thinking about Madison Mogen, 21, Coeur d’Alene, no longer with us.
Boise State freshman quarterback Taylen Green held his first press conference last week, we’re all curious about how this bizarre season will end, and fans wonder who will replace Dirk Koetter at offensive coordinator.
I can’t stop thinking about Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Rathdrum, no longer with us.
Idaho football is having its best season in six years, with new coach Jason Eck providing style and substance in Moscow. The Vandals beat Idaho State in Pocatello on Saturday and could be headed to the FCS playoffs, pending a decision Sunday morning.
I can’t stop thinking about Xana Kernodle, 20, Post Falls, no longer with us.
For Idaho State coach Charlie Ragle, on the losing end of Saturday’s state rival game, his season in Pocatello is over. Ragle, a good man with a bad job, lost 10 of 11 games in his first season, struggled with his own personal health issues, and now must spend the offseason searching for a miracle to fix his program.
I can’t stop thinking about Ethan Chapin, 20, Mount Vernon, Washington, no longer with us.
Boise State basketball is spending a few days in South Carolina, six hours south of the Virginia campus, and trying to discover an early season identity for its new team. The Broncos split their first two games in South Carolina and play Colorado on Sunday afternoon before returning home for games against Utah Valley and Cal State Northridge.
I can’t stop thinking about Lavel Davis Jr., 20, Virginia football, no longer with us.
Three Treasure Valley football teams played for state championships this weekend, as another high school season quietly ended. Meridian lost to Rigby inside Albertsons Stadium, Bishop Kelly fell to Skyline in Pocatello, and Homedale dropped a close game to Sugar-Salem. So many young men are hurting today after falling one game short of their championship dreams.
I can’t stop thinking about Devin Chandler, 21, Virginia football, no longer with us.
Ryan Dinwiddie — one of the greatest quarterbacks to play for Boise State — is now the head coach of the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League. He’s coaching in the 109th Grey Cup on Sunday afternoon, hoping to beat the two-time defending champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers. It’s the non-hockey Super Bowl of Canada, a big game and a monster opportunity for Dinwiddie.
Could Dinwiddie join the mix of names when Boise State head coach Andy Avalos finalizes his search to replace Koetter after this season?
I can’t stop thinking about D’Sean Perry, 22, Virginia football, no longer with us.
Eight young people are gone, with lasting impacts on their family and friends, campuses and communities. Sadly, time will help ease our anger and emotions. Thankfully, sports will once again play a role in the healing.
Not today. Not this weekend. Not while the pain still hurts.
Mike Prater is the Idaho Press sports columnist who co-hosts Idaho Sports Talk (KTIK 95.3 FM on Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m.) and the Boise State post-game show (KBOI 670 AM). He is on Twitter @MikeFPrater and can be reached at email@example.com