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Outta’ Right Field: The harsh reality that is today’s world

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Players from the Kansas City Chiefs and Carolina Panthers gather at midfield for a prayer after the Chiefs 27-21 win on Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012. (MCT)

The weekend that was in the NFL was marred by a tragic and troubling event. Tragic is the loss of two lives and a now orphaned three-month-old baby girl. What is troubling is that, from all the signs revealed, this whole situation looked planned.

On Saturday, Dec. 1, Jovan Belcher, a 25-year-old linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, fatally shot his 22-year-old girlfriend before driving to the team’s facilities, thanking his coaches and front office members for everything in his career and taking his own life with a gunshot to the head.

Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel and GM Scott Pioli were first-person witnesses to the suicide.

The next day, less than 24 hours after those gut-wrenching acts, Crennel coached his team on the sidelines to a 27-21 win over the Carolina Panthers. But it is what was said after the game that matters more than anything that happened on the field that day.

“It’s what we do – we play football,” Crennel said after the game. “We coach football. And for a couple of hours, we could brush the misery aside and do something we love to do, and maybe that would help us and help the community.’’

Truth. Football and all sporting events have stood the test of time because they are enjoyment and entertainment especially when people need it most. It is the simplicity of the event that can make the greatest of problems disappear – even if for a few hours.

But perhaps it was what 28-year-old Chiefs quarterback Brady Quinn said postgame that resonates loudest of all.

“The one thing people can hopefully try to take away, I guess, is the relationships they have with people,” Quinn said after the game. “I know when it happened, I was sitting and, in my head, thinking what I could have done differently.  When you ask someone how they are doing, do you really mean it?  When you answer someone back how you are doing, are you really telling the truth?”

Think about that for a moment. There are some people we see everyday: teachers, classmates, colleagues at work, family. There are people we talk to everyday without ever making eye contact or actually talking to them.

A text message doesn’t have the same impact as a conversation. It is so normal and so regular that it sometimes takes true heartfelt conversation to make people realize it. Of course, another way to realize is the ultimate, in this case a suicide of a friend and teammate.

Quinn continued to talk about the changing age of communication. Communicating with people today is not about physically seeing a person or vocally having a conversation.

“We live in a society of social networks, with Twitter pages and Facebook, and that’s fine,” Quinn said, “but we have contact with our work associates, our family, our friends, and it seems like half the time we are more preoccupied with our phone and other things going on instead of the actual relationships that we have right in front of us.”

Again, it is a very true statement. We live on our cell phones. We feel the need to constantly tell our life story to anyone who will listen.

But what Quinn is trying to say is that telling a life story on Facebook or Twitter is like standing in an auditorium full of friends, family and colleagues.

What you say in the public eye is only as good as what the person listening thinks of himself or herself in the public eye. People tend to go off of their reputation more than being heartfelt in public.

But when people actually share what is really on their minds and do it personally, the connection is special.

When you open your heart and really talk about your life, that is a better story than anything you could share with the public.

Life is precious. Every day is precious. And unfortunately, sometimes, it takes events like the one that happened on Saturday to remind us how fragile life is and how quickly it can be taken away.

“Hopefully, people can learn from this and try to actually help if someone is battling something deeper on the inside than what they are revealing on a day-to-day basis,” Quinn said

So as we, as a campus, prepare to break for Christmas and the holiday season, remember that it is the people around you that make it the best time of the year. And treasure every day you get to spend with those special people and make sure they know what they mean to you.

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