Holt: Death of athlete gets mixed views

Holt: Death of athlete gets mixed views

first_imgThe Los Angeles Angels were rocked yesterday by the news that pitcher Nick Adenhart was tragically killed in a car accident. The 22-year-old became the second widely covered casualty of drunken driving in the past month. Ultimately, he’s an example of everything positive that can come from sports.Adenhart’s death is a terrible loss for the Angels organization, his family and his friends. He was on the way home from a club when the car he was a passenger in was hit by a minivan. The minivan ran a red light and its driver, Andrew Gallo, tried to flee the scene after the accident. He was eventually caught and hopefully gets what he deserves for not only being careless but a coward as well.All this came just hours after Adenhart pitched six scoreless innings in what would end up an Angels loss to the A’s. It was only his fourth major league start — and a promising one at that. It was hardly a fitting end to what had been a good night for the kid.Already, much of the media coverage mourns the loss of a young man who had great talent and potential. However, the emphasis here should be on the loss of life, not the loss of talent. Too often it seems like the focus of ESPN memorials to players whose lives were cut short is misplaced. More tends to be said about how many points might have been scored or how many records might have been broken. Isn’t the focus of a memorial usually on what a person accomplished rather than what they didn’t get the chance to?Of course, athletes tend to be viewed differently than the average Joe, which is nothing new. Like everything else in a baseball player’s life, an injury is defined by numbers. Is he going to be on the 15-day DL or the 60? If someone throws out his elbow, the chief concern becomes how many mph he loses on his fastball. We seem to forget they are people.While the Angels called off last night’s game in response to Adenhart’s death, the fact of the matter is that today, they will have to move on. The Los Angeles rotation was already depleted with Ervin Santana, John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar on the disabled list. Adenhart’s death means somebody else will get his chance to pitch as a result. It sucks, but it’s business.As for Angels fans, I can’t imagine the conundrum they must be in. On one hand they’re angry because a young man lost his life for no good reason. On the other, they must be pissed because their team is minus one starter. Which is the bigger initial reason for distress? More than likely it’s the loss of Adenhart the pitcher, not the loss of Adenhart the man.Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not trying to call anyone a monster for being insensitive or put words in anyone’s mouth, but the truth is this: Adenhart was a person lots of people had no reason to care about aside from the fact that he pitched for their favorite team. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. The beauty is the fact people did care about him simply because he played for the Angels. It’s said that sports brings people together; what better example than this?It’s tragic events like these that bring out the good and bad of sports. People were united in support of a man they didn’t personally know just because of the jersey on his back. On the flipside, it also shows pro athletes can be seen as just parts to be replaced when needed. A pro sports team isn’t only a ballclub but a commercial product as well.As the healing process begins, it’s important to focus on any good that can come out of this tragedy. Adenhart was a talented young man who had a positive effect on a lot of people. Whether he’s ultimately remembered for what he did — or what he could have done — remains to be seen. What I do know is that his death exemplifies the unifying power of sports; thousands of strangers were brought together by something as simple as a logo on a hat. As tragic as Adenhart’s death was, it allows us to see sports in a pure light. Any chance to ignore the contracts and scandals that tend to dominate headlines is worth something.Adam is a sophomore majoring in journalism. Any ideas on how Adenhart will be remembered? Disagree about how athletes are viewed by the media and public? E-mail him at [email protected]last_img

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