It’s been a year since Jared Lee Loughner shot Gabrielle Giffords in the head in, as she was meeting constituents front of a Safeway Supermarket in Tucson. The event shook the Tucson community, and brought national attention to a city that normally does not get attention. It event brought US President, Barack Obama, to the city.
During the week of the incident, I wrote a column for SportsFan4, back in my guest poster days for the site. The column is below. I was also living in Boston, since moved back to the southwest.
Sports fans can get carried away with wins & losses & Xs & Os. At the end of the day, sports is entertainment. It is a way for us to get away from worries & concerns in life for a few hours once or twice a week. There are times when things occur in life that that puts sports in it’s proper perspective.
It was an ordinary Saturday morning in sunny Tucson, AZ, where it was more then likely in the high 50s/low 60s. A well-liked US Congresswoman by the name of Gabrielle Giffords was talking to constituents at a major supermarket chain located at a major intersection in the far north-west side of town. A man in his early 20s went to see the Congresswoman, only to shot her point blank in the head, and then continuing shooting at other innocent people, only to kill 6 & injure 13 people. Thank fully enough, Congresswoman Giffords is recovering. How she will function will remain to be seen in the weeks, months & years ahead.
It occurred on a day when the University of Arizona was scheduled to play Stanford University. The game was rescheduled for the next day in front of a near sell-out crowd. University of Arizona Athletic Director, Greg Byrne, said in a statement, “The University feels the game should be delayed with deep respect to the victims and families impacted by this tragedy.”
I am a Tucsonan, born & raised. I moved to Boston 6 years ago. I like Boston more then Tucson & have not regretted moving here. This incident really hit home to me. I was grieving, still grieving & will more then likely will remain to do so till further notice.
I was born at University Medical Center, the same hospital Giffords is getting care at. The memorial service was held in the University of Arizona arena, McKale Center, next door to where my father works, the same place he worked at since he moved to Tucson from Boston before I was born. US District Court Judge John Roll, one of 6 killed, graduated from the same high school as me. I drove by the intersection the incident occurred when I went to interstate-10 and to visit one of my best friends.
Before I know it, the quiet city I live the majority of my life in was plastered all over the news, in a way it did not deserve & got to the point where the President made a trip here. The last sitting President to visit Tucson was Bill Clinton. I am used to never hearing about Tucson on the national news, and if it makes national news, the on-air graphic would be spelled “Tuscon,” not “Tucson” the correct spelling.
Now the memorial service is over, funerals will be done in a few days & we know Congresswoman Griffords will be making a recovery, it is time for the community to heal. The memorial service at McKale Center was one piece of the puzzle. The rest is where the basketball team comes into place. Sports wise, the University is the only game in town. They gave a little flavor of it on Sunday January 9, while virtually surrounding facilities & attention for rest of the week due to the tragedy.
University of Arizona head coach, Sean Miller, said in a press conference, “One thing that’s so evident to all of us as we watch this whole tragedy unfold is it’s amazing how the university is the centerpiece of Tucson. For example, the ceremony being in McKale, and [University of Arizona President] Dr. [Robert] Shelton having such a prominent role and us moving the game to Sunday and having that many people show up one day after it happened, almost letting everyone get their mind off things.”
McKale Center sold out virtually every game during the Lute Olson era. The lack of stability in the program past 4 years, missing the NCAA tournament for the first time in recent memory last season, and loosing key games this year has made attendance lack luster. That could change starting Saturday afternoon. “We anticipate having another full crowd. They were spirited (Sunday), for a combination of factors. The McKale Center crowd is great in that way – once the game gets close, and the team needs their support, they respond, ” said James Francis, UA’s associate athletic director for external operations to the Arizona Daily Star Newspaper.
The game after the memorial service was against in-state rival in Arizona State. The crowd was at capacity & they walked away with a victory. The energy, support what we hope will be the continuation of Arizona’s winning will be a factor in the healing process.
A 13-3 record did not look good to Arizona fans on January 7. A 15-3 record on January 15 will looks very good. At the end of the day, records do not matter. It is only entertainment, in a way that bonds a community full of wounds.
I will be there, healing & cheering, 3,000 miles away, while putting life in perspective.