While notable, in my opinion, those victories do not compare to the triumph that took place on Nov. 15, 2013, on the streets of San Francisco.
None of the things the San Francisco Giants, 49ers, or many others around the sports world did on the field this year seem as important or impactful as what they did for humanity and 5-year-old “Batkid,” Miles Scott, last Friday.
The story of the Batkid is not primarily a sports story. It is a story for every human being, regardless of political leaning, fan allegiances or other man-made dividing lines. I, however, first discovered the story while on a sports website. It was covered by nearly every major sports outlet. Many sports teams, athletes and coaches got involved in the event.
If you haven’t heard the story, the city of San Francisco teamed up with the Make-A-Wish-Foundation to make the dreams of a cancer-fighting 5-year-old little boy come true. As is the case with many 5-year-old boys, Miles’ dream was to be a superhero. For a day he was Batkid, riding around town in his Batmobile with his grownup sidekick, Batman, saving the city.
People lined the streets throughout San Francisco to cheer him on. Sports figures and teams, government officials and people around the world offered their support. The effort and energy the city expended to give Miles the Batkid experience was inspiring.
I can imagine the pure excitement that little guy felt. I can imagine it because I’ve seen it in my own little boys; and it’s brought tears to my eyes on many occasions.
When you become a parent, everything changes. Your heart and soul expand, and you become aware and capable of a whole new level of love. There is nothing else that compares to it.
Not many people or events have succeeded in getting me to cry; my faucet is just not that leaky I guess. My kids, however, succeed at it on a regular basis. There is something about the innocence of children that overwhelms my often pessimistic adult mind and heart.
It’s the instinctual, unlearned, unforced smile of my 9-month-old baby girl.
It’s the splendor, sincerity and simplicity of my 2-year-old little boy running up to give me a hug while doing his best to help me understand whatever wonderful thing he is currently excited about.
It’s the superhero enthusiasm and zest for life of my 6-year-old son, who has no idea how much I want to be more like him in so many ways.
In the pictures and videos of the Batkid, I saw the beauty and love of my own children inside that costume. Seeing Miles dressed as a superhero, running around the city saving the day, that thought got me choked up.
It reminded me of a similar yet much different day almost a year ago. On that day, Dec. 14, 2012, I sat at my desk, unable to focus on my work, because of something that had happened that made my heart ache to be with my children.
That was the day of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, when 20 perfectly guiltless children were killed, along with six adult staff members.
After getting word of the story that morning, also a Friday, I sat at my desk in disbelief, staring blankly at my computer screen, the walls of my office, my keyboard, my shoes, or whatever else was around me. I don’t know any words sufficient to describe the sickness I felt that day. I could hardly form thoughts, let alone speak.
The thoughts I did have were for my own children, just as they were when I read the story and saw the pictures of Miles Scott, the Batkid. On both days I was emotional.
But the tears on this more recent Friday were so much better. These tears were happy.
There is a little superhero inside all of our children. We owe it to them to do a better job of creating a safe, stable and kind world to live in — where their excitement, creativity and love can be expressed without fear of sarcasm, criticism or pain.
We were all children once, and there is probably still a little innocence and a little superhero left in all of us. Hopefully Batkid can stand as a reminder to treat each other with respect, compassion and sincerity.
We sports fans and athletes sometimes seem to feel that sports supersede life and the principles that should apply to it, particularly in the way we treat others. On Friday, the sports world was humbled and brought together by a 5-year-old little boy.
While other sports stories this year have entertained and captivated me, none had inspired me to want to be a better father and a better man.
The story of Miles Scott, the Batkid, did. His is the sports story of the year.
Nate Gagon is a published sports, music and creative writer. He is also a wholehearted father, grateful husband and ardent student of life. He shoots roughly 94% from the free throw line and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or @nategagon.