On "Toronto Stronger"

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s the thing about Toronto Stronger.

I’ve spent the last three weeks flinching at shadows. I’ve spent the last three weeks bursting into tears at random times. Stupid things set me off; really stupid things. Yellow and blue ribbon stickers on the MBTA. Walking through Copley Square. The policemen who still stand guard over the bomb site on Boylston. And it's not just me; this is a shared experience, one that a lot of Bostonians are reeling from and dealing with.

Hockey is our escape from the shit. Hockey is a way for us to forget for a while, for us to get away from the constant hair-trigger of emotions caused by the marathon bombings. It helps us tamp down those horrible feelings for a few hours, and that's awesome. "Boston Strong," too, gave us all something to cling to and rally around, a way to honor our heroes -- our first responders. It gave us hope and a sense of place when the world was turned upside down, a sense of our own community and our own courage and ability to get through whatever the world throws our way.

For you to try to co-opt that for a stupid sporting event? For you to take to twitter and make light of our suffering over a HOCKEY GAME?

It's heartbreaking. Nothing short of heartbreaking.

And it triggered panic in my heart, in the hearts of a good lot of Bostonians, to see it, as dramatic as that sounds; panic over the expressed hatred of my city (whether intentional or not), panic about our slogan, our rallying cry, being trashed and mutilated.

I don't hate Leafs fans; I don't hate Toronto. I don't even hate the misguided idiot who brought that sign to the game, because how could he understand the feelings he incurred with his actions? What I hate is that sports-hate was warped into hatred for this city, warped and injected into a space that was supposed to be our safe escape from the reality of all this. I hate that our expression of love and gratitude for our first responders, our doctors and people who got us through the tragedy of the marathon bombing, was changed into a heartless sports slogan, a way for a few idiots to put us -- not our team, not our coaches, not our players, but us -- in the dirt.

Sports hate is supposed to be fun. It's not supposed to be personally offensive, it's not supposed to injure anything but fan pride. People shouldn't be getting punched in the head, or wishing cancer on anyone, or playing on the emotional state of an entire city. Sports hate is supposed to be fun. It's not supposed to make anyone who loves the game want to just pick up and walk away.

It'd be really great if we could all remember that.

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