Monthly Archives: March 2020

The Perfect Competition for These Wild Times

The Perfect Competition for These Wild Times

When Thomas Waerner and his 10 sled dogs pulled into Nome, AK, late Tuesday night, they were entering a very different world than the one they left ten days prior. At that time, Waerner was also one of the only people on Earth experiencing that particular type of pride and joy that comes with dominating a sporting event, the champion of the Iditarod, a competition that’s known as “The Last Great Race.” This year, more than ever, it lived up to that billing. As league after league suspended their seasons and tournaments, the Iditarod carried on—and it was the perfect competition for these crazy times.

The famed dog sled race through the Alaskan wilderness has its origins in a crisis eerily reminiscent of our own. In the winter of 1925, the city of Nome was facing an outbreak of a sickness marked by—what else?—a pronounced cough, fever, and body aches, and the town’s only doctor was out of medicine to treat it. No ships could access the local port; it was iced over, and it was too dangerous to deliver anything by plane. So, a relay of 20 mushers and 150 sled dogs was organized to transport the serum from the southern town of Seward to Nome. Working day and night, they got the treatment to Nome in 5 ½ days and saved the town. Today’s mushers follow a similar path to the one those dog teams ran to keep a pandemic at bay.

The Iditarod […]


The Healing Power of Sports

The Healing Power of Sports

A month after Pearl Harbor, baseball’s owners were scrambling. At a time when so much in the world appeared unknown and dangerous, was it worth continuing to play ball? During World War I, the MLB season had been cancelled, and for guidance as to whether the 1941 season would suffer a similar fate, commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis petitioned the president. He sent a handwritten letter to the White House, noting, “The time is approaching when, in ordinary conditions, our teams would be heading for spring training camps. However, inasmuch as these are not ordinary times, I venture to ask what you have in mind as to whether professional baseball should continue to operate.”

President Roosevelt responded immediately, and his letter was front page news across the country. “I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going,” he said. “There will be fewer people unemployed and everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before. And that means that they ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work even more than before.”

As a result, baseball continued throughout the war, even as stars like Bob Feller and Hank Greenberg were drafted into service, and indeed, Roosevelt was right. Baseball was a welcome respite from the grim newsreels; by 1945, attendance had climbed to its highest mark in MLB history.

Baseball provided a sense of normalcy, as well as an escape. It’s a role that […]