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The games will go on

April 6, 2009
By B.J. LISKO, Salem News Sports Editor

The last week and a half has been a little turbulent to say the least. I've never been shy about my personal life in print. Anyone that reads my column regularly knows I perpetually root for the underdog, the guy down on his luck, the every-man, the gambler, and sometimes ultimately, the loser.

Now more than ever life can be a struggle. The economy is bad, unemployment rates soaring, and you can stick your six o'clock news you know where.

As if it isn't bad enough, numerous people are losing hope as well as their respective minds causing more pain and hardship to others.

The weekend's national headlines read something like "Jobless rates hit all-time high," "3 officers gunned down," "North Korea launches rocket," "Dad killed kids because wife was leaving."

You get the picture.

It's all gloom and doom.

Saturday night, as I plodded my way into the office, sat in my chair, took a deep breath and braced for the day, I was really feeling sorry for myself.

I've battled through divorce, depression, panic attacks and the latest gem, yet another relationship issue that is beyond my comprehension.

Regardless, everyone gets down on their luck.

As I sat here, the NCAA men's basketball tournament playing in the background, I thought of how easily it is focus solely on the negative. The media doesn't help. When people say they are doing "good" in casual greetings, it often seems out of habit.

How many times have you thought, "What's the point of it all?"

Let me put an abrupt end to where your mind may be wandering right now.

I am not about to give you the meaning of life. I have no idea. I have no religious or political affiliation of any kind to promote, nor do I really have the desire to know what anyone else's are or is.

Michigan State beat UConn.

When it happened, I realized and remembered for probably the millionth time in my life, sports are more than a game. The reason the down on his luck guy drowning his sorrow in his beer at the end of the bar is so passionate about his team is that it helps him escape from the gloom and doom.

Michigan State gave an area of our country real reason to get lost in something that is probably totally irrelevant in the big picture of anything. Detroit is in shambles - not unlike the Youngstown's of the world. But East Lansing, the Detroit area and every autoworker terrified about his job and wife and kids and family and life can get lost at least for one more day as their team tries to pull off the impossible by winning a national title.

Every Kelly Pavlik fight, Youngstown loses its mind. There's something to rally behind. There's something to get lost in. Whether who we root for win or lose doesn't matter, but the fact that the every-man, the underdog did it, even just for a split moment gives everyone the hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Michigan State made me think. It made me think about the adversities so many people in our area have had to struggle through and survive.

Kids coming back wounded from Iraq, or in some cases not at all.

Tragic accidents, flood victims, fires, rapes, murders.

These things all happened. All much worse than anything I've ever been through. Where do I get the right to feel sorry for myself?

It made me realize something that inevitably I always figure out.

The games go on. And the games will always go on because they have to. The games keep us sane. The games keep us entertained. The games let us escape. The games give us inspiration, hope, passion, camaraderie. The games are life.

I am proud to be a sports editor. I am proud to be able to have the forum to voice my opinions. To make you laugh, to make you angry, to make you feel anything besides what you might otherwise let yourself get trapped in to despair.

To report to you the games.

I don't know the meaning of life. It's tough out there right now. It's tough for everyone.

But maybe, just maybe if we focused just a little more on the enjoyment we get from these silly games, it would help see us through a world of hardship.

E-mail B.J. Lisko at



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