The line between life and sports is thin

My heart breaks for Todd Heap and his family.

My heart breaks for the family of Mikayla Focht.

Will can all be so fortunate to have people talk about us after we’re dead the way those within the Pittsburgh Steelers organization talked about Dan Rooney.

I listened to Jim Rome interview former player Ike Taylor and it was nothing but love and respect.

The reverence for which Taylor spoke of Rooney was quite touching, speaking of the way Rooney touched and shaped his life.

¯ From the Associated Press:

Condolences poured in for retired NFL player Todd Heap and his family on Saturday, a day after police say the former Pro Bowl tight end accidentally ran over his 3-year-old daughter with a truck, killing her.

Heap was moving the truck at his home in Mesa, a Phoenix suburb, on Friday when he struck the girl, police said. She was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The Baltimore Ravens, Heap’s longtime former team, called the accident “knee-buckling news and an overwhelming tragedy.”

¯ From wearecentralpa.com:

A Hollidaysburg Area High School senior was killed in an ATV crash Friday morning, near Blue Knob.

Mikayla Focht, 18, was a softball standout and was set to graduate at the end of this term. She had signed on to play with St. Francis University.

The crash happened as the driver of the ATV, Trenton Bilak, 23, was traveling south along Knob Road in Greenfield Township, just after 4 a.m. Bilak hit deer that were on the roadway, causing the ATV to overturn and throw both Bilak and Focht.

According to police, Bilak fled the scene and suffered minor injuries. Focht was pronounced dead at the scene. Neither was wearing a helmet.

¯ From The Associated Press:

Rooney took over operation of the team in the 1960s from his father, Art, who founded the franchise. From there, Dan Rooney oversaw NFL championships for a team that had never played in a league title game. Over the decades he became one of the most powerful and innovative forces within the game, developing the Rooney Rule under which NFL teams are required to interview minority candidates for coaching and front-office positions. He was a key figure in labor negotiations and league expansion.

In 2000, Rooney was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, joining his father. Dan Rooney’s son, Art II, has been the Steelers president since 2003, with Dan Rooney becoming chairman.

“My job is to do what’s best for the organization and to make that decision regardless of what the consequences are to me personally,” Dan Rooney once said. “I take my position very seriously. What I want is an organization that can be together, one where everybody in the place has the same goal, and that is to win.”


Life is not sports and sports is not life.

Yet, they are strongly intertwined.

They are linked much like offensive linemen keeping the defense off their quarterback.

There is a line that we don’t always see, or use.

We tend to forget that within 30 minutes after a loss, kids go on with their lives — texting friends, hitting the ice cream stand or looking forward to what’s next.

It may not always be 30 minutes, but, eventually the sting of the loss goes away and life is back to normal.

I can’t always say the same for adults who watch that same game.

We tend to find the message boards to whine about the play calling, the substitutions or the lack of (or too many) calls by those who officiate.

It takes us adults far longer to actually take the step into tomorrow.

Coaches tell me all the time that kids are far more resilient than us adults.

For some reason, we cannot let go of a loss and we talk about a win far too much.


A sporting event looks completely different to those of us who coach or watch from the stands, than it does to those who participate or watch from the bench.

We forget that some kids are really happy being a member of a team and enjoy those two-ish hours a day in practice.

We adults tend to forget that some 96 percent of all high school athletes end their playing careers once they graduate high school.

We expect out kids to be that 4 percent and sometimes cannot fathom being the 96 percent.

I cannot tell you what I would give to watch my daughter play one more volleyball game or son one more basketball game.

Let me go sit in the stands and enjoy their passion for the sport.

Yes, I would love to watch those games end in a victory, but I also know that a loss means they will still be my kids and I will still love them and we will still laugh together.


We are a negative society and I hope we can all see that.

Negativity is exhausting to be around.

Negativity is something coaches never want in the locker room.

Negativity spreads like a cancer and it’s hard to eradicate.

We are a society that awaits the 2×4 to the forehead instead of figuring out ways to avoid it.

We would rather be miserable than rejoice.

We would rather complain that count our blessings.

We are a society that just loves rubbing salt in our own wounds.

It’s not that the glass is half full or half empty, it’s that we refuse to fill the glass with good.

We have too much positivity and we await the hammer.


We are the 11 disciples who refused to believe.

Mark 16:9-20:

When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.

She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping.

When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.

Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country.

These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.

Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;

they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.

Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.


We are they.

We lack faith and are stubborn.

We are those who did not believe it.

I understand life hits people harder than others.

Not one life is the same and not one person will react the same way to circumstances.

But, we can all try to change to recorder in our brain.

We can chance the message.

Inky Johnson did.

Look him up.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. He can be contacted at mmathison@heraldstaronline.com and followed on Twitter @HSDTsports).


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