By Ann Liguori
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The Jets win this weekend over the Colts and the improbable victory by the Seattle Seahawks over the Saints punctuated by Marshawn Lynch’s electrifying run, provided, perhaps, a bit of joy in a weekend dominated by the tragic loss of six people in Arizona, 14 others who were injured and the assassination attempt of Congressional Representative Gabrielle Giffords who remains in critical condition after a lunatic shot her in the head and killed and injured others. Sports indeed serve as an escape and this past weekend was no exception. The dramatic football games on Saturday provided a moment of joy amongst a weekend of sadness and loss.

The Jets 17-16 win over the Colts on Saturday was indeed the ‘herculean effort’ Coach Rex Ryan described. Just when you thought the Jets season was in the books when Adam Vinatieri’s 50-yard field goal with 53 seconds left in the game put the Colts ahead 16-14, the Jets offense put Nick Folk in position to win the game with his 32-yarder, with no time left on the clock. How great was that? Moments of exhilaration and a bit of disbelief followed, not to mention pandemonium from diehard Jets fans.

And sports fans could not get enough of watching Marshawn Lynch’s dramatic 67-yard run with 3:22 left in the game to clinch Seattle’s win over defending champs New Orleans Saints, 41-36. Lynch was not going to be stopped by anyone. He weaved and charged his way through all kinds of obstacles, breaking tackles right and left, until he crossed the end zone. He was a man on a mission and his efforts along with Matt Hasselbeck’s four touchdowns, ended New Orleans’ season.

But the unthinkable tragedy in Arizona quickly numbed any elation felt over the weekend by these sports feats. The horrendous news even crossed over to the sports pages as the youngest victim of the Tucson shooting was nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green, the granddaughter of former baseball manager/player/executive Dallas Green and the daughter of John Green, who pitched for six seasons in the New York Yankees organization in the 1980s and then became a scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates and is currently a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Christina had become interested in politics after being elected to the student council in her school. She wanted to hear U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords speak. According to reports, Christina enjoyed playing baseball. She played second base as the only girl on a boys baseball team. What a vibrant young girl, full of life and promise.

Ah…the sadness of it all. To listen to her father on television and to view his excruciating pain as he talked about his daughter’s grace and legacy is heart breaking.

And the debate has probably only started regarding how the often intense angry tone and rhetoric in this country, which creates such deep political divisions, perhaps contributes to these kinds of crimes. I realize this is a subject that psychologists and others can spend hours debating. But Sheriff Clarence Dupnik’s comments in the aftermath of the tragedy will initiate much needed discussions concerning the consequences of hate talk and how damaging this rhetoric can be. The venom and divisions that we hear day in and day out cannot be productive. On the contrary, all the vitriol and angry talk could be negatively affecting and influencing a whole new generation of people – some who are crazy enough to carry out horrendous acts.

The nation mourns the loss of innocent people. Our prayers are with these families and with congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her family.

And in the days ahead, our country will continue to ask why. And we all should take the responsibility to examine the extent of the hateful climate out there and how to stop it.


Be sure to visit Ann’s web site at

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