SRO 2013 Year in Review: Marathon stands alone

SRO 2013 Year in Review: Marathon stands alone
December 30, 2013, 12:15 pm
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Two more days and 2013 will be over. Two more days, and we’ll turn the calendar (or whatever, the calendar will turn itself), marking the end of a historic and unforgettable year in Boston. Of course, we say that every year around this time — Aaaah, so unforgettable! So historic! — but in this case, it’s actually true. 2013 was probably the most historic year this city has seen since the age of powdered wigs and muskets.
In recognition of all that happened, and with 2014 right around the corner, you’ve read (or at least noticed) more than a few “Year-End Top 10 lists” over the last few weeks. The best of this; the worst of that. You couldn’t avoid them if you tried. It’s an epidemic. The only thing less subtle than another “Year-End Top 10 list” would be a Year-End Top 10 list about Ron Burgundy.
Anyway, this year, almost all these lists include something about the Boston Marathon attack, and for some reason that bothers me. On one hand, I know it’s a topic that can’t be ignored. There’s no 2013 Year in Review (sports or otherwise) without far more than a mention of what happened back in April. But at the same time, the media has a choice in how they approach the topic. They’re free to cover and remember the tragedy however they please.
For instance, Rolling Stone might release a commemorative year-end cover — never before seen photos of little brother terrorist topless on the beach! TMZ could leak secret home videos of older brother terrorist molesting animals.
In real life, the Associated Press named “The Marathon Bombings” their Sports Story of the Year.
For real.
The tragedy earned 67 (out of 96) first-place votes from a panel of U.S. editors and news directors. It racked up 761 total points, and easily topped the runner up — Lance Armstrong’s doping admission, 517 points.
In honor of the achievement, the bombings will be presented with a Story of the Year trophy this July at the AP’s annual awards BBQ in Central Park.
We did it, guys! Boston Strong!!!
OK, I made that last part up, but that’s the vibe that lists like the AP’s give off. There’s something so awkward about discussing the bombings in the context of a popularity contest. Same goes for including the attack on the same Top 10 list as Manti Te’o’s fake dead girlfriend. Or including it on any list at all.
It’s just wrong. Ultimately, the only way to discuss the marathon within any 2013 Year in Review is to do it independently of everything else.
So, that’s what this is: Recognizing the tragedy.
Taking a second to remember Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi and Sean Collier.
And making it clear that what happened to them and all the other victims was not the “Sports Story of the Year.” It wasn’t Auburn upsetting Alabama in the Iron Bowl or LeBron winning his fourth MVP. It wasn’t even sports. It was a real-life nightmare, and it stands alone.
At this point, I don’t have too much to add. I wrote about the Marathon a bunch this year: The morning after. The days after. Boston Strong and the World Series. At this point, it won’t be long before the anniversary pops up on the radar. The 2014 Marathon is fast-approaching. Runners are training. Money is being raised. Plans are being made. It’s going to be an event unlike anything this city has ever seen, and will surely emerge as the lasting memory of the next 12 months.
In the meantime, I have two quick marathon-related thoughts:
I don’t remember their names: When I was writing the paragraph about Rolling Stone and TMZ, I went to type the bombers’ names and drew a blank. Initially, I thought Tsarnev was the younger brother’s first name and couldn’t remember the last name. Then, I realized that Tsarnaev was the last name, and couldn’t remember their first names. I went to Google it, but then stopped. I leaned back, and smiled. I love that I can’t remember their names. We should all forget their names. Screw those guys.
Boston hasn’t changed: The city’s spirit and way of life has been undeterred by the attacks. If you could go back right now and walk through Boston on December 30, 2012, it would be indistinguishable from the Boston that you see today. We are OK. Obviously, there are people within the community and beyond who are still dealing with devastating reality of the attack, and will be forever, but the city has taken them under its wing. The city now lives and carries itself in honor of those whose lives were tragically changed forever. And the city is succeeding.
It wasn’t always easy, and it won’t get any easier. It’s been a really hard year. But the city has overcome. Boston is stronger than ever. And in the process of healing and rebuilding, it’s been great to have sports as a diversion. Even if that’s ultimately all it was.
Marathon aside, 2013 was another truly historic and unforgettable year in Boston sports. And with two days left, it’s time to take a look back . . .
Stay tuned.
Follow me on Twitter: @rich_levine