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2013: The finish line in sight

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By Brian Blair

As 2013 winds down there will be plenty of images to remember from the year in sports.
The year began with the lights going out at the Super Bowl in New Orleans. Baltimore would eventually hold on to knock off San Francisco to win its second title.
Basketball fans will not soon forget the image from Indianapolis in March when the leg of Louisville’s Kevin Ware bent and snapped like a pencil. Just over a week later Cardinal fans also will cherish the image of seeing Ware cut down his piece of the net after his teammates captured the NCAA National Championship in Atlanta.
University of Kentucky hoops fanatics will have a hard time forgetting the picture of fans streaming the court at Robert Morris after defeating the Wildcats in the first round of the NIT.
We saw Major League Baseball players holding press conferences to address their suspensions for using performance enhancing drugs.
We also witnessed a miracle play in the Auburn/Alabama game that would propel the Tigers to a potential national championship and leave Crimson Tide followers wondering how it all happened.
While we celebrate reaching the finish line of 2013, our most indelible image from the past year may be of those who never made it to the finish line in Boston last spring.
On April 15  at 2:49 p.m., a pair of bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
Amid the carnage, three people were dead and hundreds more lay in the street and on the sidewalks left with horrific injuries. The pictures on television and the internet were disturbing and yet we could not turn away.
For the next week, we watched until finally the two perpetrators whose names are not worthy of being printed here had been either killed or captured. As people cheered the police for making the now famous arrest in the boat, we were left to wonder how a sporting event could have gone so terribly wrong.
Sports are meant to leave us with hope and joy. Yes, the lights went out in the biggest football game of the year but they came back on and the game finished in dramatic. Kevin Ware being taken from the court on a stretcher was horrible but he was able to get back up and get his piece of the net. The Wildcats lost but they began the next season with another outstanding recruiting class and hopes for a return to dominance.
What did we learn from Boston? Maybe sports aren’t as innocent as we would like to believe. At the same time, maybe we learned that even when all seemed desperate a baseball team could inspire a worn-out city. That’s right the Boston Red Sox and their beards played with a passion and a desire to give Bostonians a moment they could remember that did not involve ambulances and automatic weapons.
The Red Sox won the World Series at Fenway Park and then after reaching their finish line headed to another one to celebrate.
After all, sports is about celebration and hopefully as we enter 2014 we can look forward to more images that will make us smile and remember what is great about the games we play.