Sports professionals set positive example by honoring Sandy Hook victims

Since the unforgettable tragedy claimed the innocent lives of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook elementary, many high-profile individuals in the entertainment industry have used their popularity to advance their anti-SecondAamendment political agenda rather than to express sympathy and compassion to those affected.

Given that backdrop, it has been heartening to see many in the world of sports entertainment to do what we should all be doing more of in the last week –  showing love and support to the victims of this tragedy instead of demagoguing themselves at the expense of responsible gun owners.

In the National Basketball Association at least one player has changed his on-court activity as a memorial to the victims. Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah decided to retire his signature finger guns celebration.

“You just have to be kind of compassionate about what’s going on, man,” Noah told CSN Chicago. “We have issues with guns. Gun violence in this country is out of control and you’ve just got to be sensitive to that.”

Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant, inscribed “NEWTOWN CT” on the shoes that he wore in a game against Sacramento.

There has also been broad support in the National Football League, the country’s most popular professional sports league, for the families of the victims.

When New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz learned that his biggest fan was six-year-old victim Jack Pinto, he inscribed “R.I.P. Jack Pinto” and “My Hero” on his cleats and gloves during New York’s game last Sunday. Cruz drove to Newton on Tuesday to meet with Pinto’s family, one day after the family had buried Jack in his No. 80 Cruz Giants jersey.

Both the Giants and New York Jets wore helmet decals with the initials S.H.E.S. (Sandy Hook Elementary School) during their games last weekend. As an organization, the NFL  asked all home teams to hold  a moment of silence in respect and stadiums across the country flew flags at  half mast.

Arguably the most moving display of compassion came from college basketball in the form of postgame remarks from Winthrop University head coach Pat Kelsey following his team’s loss at fourth-ranked Ohio State on Tuesday night.

[VIDEO URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUSlNoyqDDs]

“I’m gonna get on an eight-hour bus ride, and I’m gonna arrive in Rock Hill, S.C., and I’m gonna walk into my house, and I’m gonna walk upstairs, and I’m gonna walk into two pink rooms, OK, with a 5-year-old and a 4-year-old laying in that pink room, with a bunch of teddy bears laying in that room. And I’m gonna give them the biggest hug and the biggest kiss I’ve ever given them. And there’s 20 families in Newtown, Conn., that are walking into a pink room with a bunch of teddy bears with nobody laying in those beds. And it’s tragic.”

The example set forth by America’s sports professionals since the shooting is one we should all take note of and remember. There will always be time for a national debate and dialogue about guns, but now is the time for grieving.

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