In the face of an awful thing, I’m once again left contemplating my level of concern for the sports-related universe.
The question, again, is: Does any of it matter? And the answer remains, to me anyway: In some ways.
Given that, and understanding the much larger lens through which such trivial things must sometimes be viewed, I have come to a few conclusions.
I do not care where Kevin Durant plays basketball, or why he wants to play there.
I do not care who wins the Euro Cup, though I am sad to see Iceland go.
I do care that Roger Federer showed the immense heart of an incomparable champion, inspiring me a bit when I accidentally served myself anxiety with my morning coffee.
I do care that a great person and phenomenal athlete has a chance to make her third Olympic team later this afternoon.
I’m not bothered by the fact that the Chicago Cubs have the entire MLB All-Star infield and an outfield spot to boot, but I do think that if something as major as home field advantage in the World Series is going to ride on an exhibition game, metrics other than fan voting must be factored into determining the starting lineup for that game.
As was the case after Orlando, none of these things matter in the face of unimaginable pain. But they can lend a peace and a sense to an often chaotic and senseless world.
It does not really affect my life – or, obviously, the larger world – in any way that Federer, 34, saved three match points in rallying from two sets down to beat Marin Cilic in Wednesday’s Wimbledon quarterfinals – marking the 10th time he’s overcome an 0-2 set deficit in a career that includes 17 Grand Slam titles. Not really, except that as someone trying to fight the perception – mainly my own – that my best professional days may be behind me as well, I can take some encouragement that I too may have a bit left in the tank.
It won’t change my daily routine in any way if Amber Campbell crushes the hammer throw in today’s U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. But it will make me believe that, sometimes, good things happen to those who deserve them and work their asses off for years to achieve them. Campbell, whom I covered during her record-shattering career at Coastal Carolina, came up one spot shy of qualifying for the Olympic finals in London in 2012. I want to believe, and I do believe, that when she gets to Rio, she’ll take home a medal.
I didn’t lose any sleep over the fact that Dodgers rookie shortstop Corey Seager didn’t get the starting All-Star spot he and his 18-game hitting streak deserve (he was chosen as a reserve). I do think that affinity for the nation’s long-suffering lovable losers may have influenced some voters – the same voters who kept making Cal Ripken Jr. an All-Star years after his numbers last warranted it and whose only glimpse of West Coast or small-market candidates may have come via a glance at the stat line on the MLB ballot. The fans should most definitely have a say in who plays in the Midsummer Classic. But now that said classic carries so much more weight, others – managers, players, sportswriters (pitching staffs and reserves are chosen by a combination of manager choice and player’s ballot) – should get to weigh in as well.
None of these things matter, not really. But they kind of do, a little.
So, thanks, Roger, and go, Amber. And get over yourself sometimes, self.
UPDATE: Campbell isn't just going to the Olympics for the third time. She's going as the 2016 Olympic Trials hammer throw champion, unleashing a throw of 74.03 meters (242 feet, 10 inches) on her last throw of the finals.