We began this program with conversations about the two bombs that exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday. The immediate victims of that attack included two young women and an eight-year-old boy, who were killed, and scores of people who were injured, some of them seriously enough so that their lives and the lives of the members of their families will never be the same.
Hundreds of runners and spectators witnessed the human damage normally associated with war, and some of them, like some soldiers, no matter their nationalities or what causes they serve, may struggle to escape the images of that damage.
Despite President Obama’s determined assertion at Thursday’s prayer service in Boston that next year’s marathon would feature harder running and louder cheering than ever before, the Boston Athletic Association doesn’t know what the next edition of the race will look like, or how it will feel, and neither do we.
Early Friday morning, residents of Boston and several surrounding towns did find out what it felt like to live in circumstances many of them had never imagined. They were told by the authorities to remain in their homes behind locked doors, to stay away from windows, and to admit nobody except uniformed police officers, while armored vehicles rolled through their streets.
So in Boston, the week began with the cheerful anticipation of the 117th running of the nation’s oldest marathon, an event which has long been the centerpiece of a state holiday and that has helped make regional heroes of Johnny Kelley the elder, Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit, Robert Cheruiyot, Catherine Ndereba, Jean Driscoll, and Ernst van Dyk among others. Five days later, one of the young men allegedly responsible for Monday’s bombings was dead, as was a campus police officer at MIT, and 15 police officers had been injured in the pursuit of the alleged bombers.
At the end of the edition of Only A Game that aired on Dec. 15, 2012, the day after 20 children and six educators had been shot to death in Newtown, Conn., I shared my thoughts about hosting a sports program at such a time. Shortly thereafter, a listener emailed as follows: “I woke up this morning thinking how I needed something to take my mind off the pain of this week’s events. I looked up Only A Game, hoping to laugh for a moment. Your show helps me get through the hard times. Thank you.”
I hope today’s program has served that purpose. And I hope I’ll never have to end another show by saying that.