I'll admit that I usually don't shed a tear when Boston University loses a hockey game.
But what happened one week ago at B.U.'s Walter Brown Arena moistened my eyes more than any other sports story has in recent memory.
For those of you who haven't heard by now, Terrier freshman Travis Roy fractured his fourth cervical vertebrae in a game against North Dakota, an injury that has left him paralyzed below the neck. Surgery was performed on Monday to remove bone fragments and stabilize his spine, but the prognosis is not encouraging and doctors think he probably will not regain use of his arms and legs.
The play was a freak accident. Roy was finishing a check on a North Dakota player in the corner, when the rookie from Yarmouth, Maine stumbled and fell face-first into the metal portion of the boards before slumping down to the ice.
He didn't get up.
The rest you now know.
Support for Roy has poured in from all over the country. Newspapers and television networks throughout the country have done features on this story, and NASCAR driver Ricky Craven has dedicated his next race to Roy.
Could Roy's injury have been avoided, people ask? The answer is, yes--but that would mean that Travis never could have put on his hockey pads and skates in the first place.
Sports are something people participate in because they enjoy it (at least through the collegiate level, for the most part). Go to a park on a weekend afternoon when the weather is good, and chances are that people will be out there playing some type of sport.
At a place like Harvard, very few athletes entertain the possibility of playing professionally, but they compete because it is a release from the other rigors of life and they have a good time out on the playing field.
Unfortunately, sports carry risks with them, too. A hockey player does risk sustaining such a neck injury, not to mention broken bones, incisions from skate blades, etc. In baseball, one high inside pitch could end a person's life.
Then again, the worst-case scenarios occur with a very low frequency. Each time one does happen, however, it is a tragedy. Roy, like you or me, is a human being and a good person couldn't wish an injury like that on anyone.
But these risks don't and shouldn't deter people from participating in sports. Before Roy was injured, he was having the time of his life playing hockey for the defending national champion Terriers.
His father said on the news that Travis was thrilled to have made the team and that he wouldn't have lived differently if given a second chance.
One can liken the situation to travelling. Let's say that your friends live in New York while you're in Boston. Most people don't think twice if they want to see their buddies or family--they drive, take a train or bus or fly down to see them. Sure there's a risk of an accident, but that shouldn't stop you.
It has been said that not to have tried something is not to have lived. One thing nobody can say is that Travis Roy didn't live.