It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we’re young
`Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run
— “Born to Run,” Bruce Springsteen, 1975
By Theodore N. Beitchman
That elegy from the Boss — his coming of age anthem — delivered new meaning to me this year.
Especially, “We gotta get out while we’re young.”
I can’t wait for Sunday, January 1, 2017.
Because we will be out of this awful year.
In case you hadn’t noticed, 2016 was a gut-wrenching nightmare.
A presidential campaign that made us feel like showering every 10 minutes just to get the stink off was bad enough.
The recent deaths of George Michael, Carrier Fisher and Debbie Reynolds were the tipping points.
I can’t wait for Sunday because we can all start over.
As the New Yorker summarized recently:
Even before November, the year felt … like a single sleepless night spent absorbing an interminable series of nightmares through my phone. There was Zika. There were terrorist attacks every few days, including the bombings in Brussels and the Bastille Day deaths in Nice. In June, fifty people were killed at a gay dance club in Orlando; in July, a single suicide bomb in Baghdad killed two hundred and ninety-two.
David Bowie died, as did Prince, Muhammad Ali, Leonard Cohen. On July 5th, Alton Sterling was pinned to the ground and shot at close range by policemen in Baton Rouge; he had been selling CDs in a parking lot. On July 6th, Philando Castile was killed by police during a routine traffic stop in Minnesota; his last moments were caught on video by his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who recorded Castile bleeding out as the hysterical officer berated her. On July 7th, during what had been a peaceful protest in Dallas against these unlawful police killings, five police officers were killed.
It’s a good thing we have sports to turn to.
Even here in Philly, where the Goddess of Victory hasn’t smiled on us too often lately.
But then she offered up the 2015-16 Villanova basketball team!
Philly is the greatest basketball town in America, bar none. And although the Sixers have sucked for what seems like forever, even they are getting better and more fun to watch because of Joel Embiid and the prospect of Big Ben Simmons.
But nothing — not even Eagle Carson Wentz’ emergence as a top-shelf NFL quarterback, or the Phillies’ fun bunch that got us through last summer, or the young guns on the Flyers who are resuscitating that tired franchise — can compare with what Jay Wright and his Wildcats did for Philly and the region last spring.
They were a great team all season, with balanced scoring led by Ryan Arcidiacono, Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins, the interior game of rock-solid Daniel Ochefu and, perhaps most importantly, a perimeter defense that smothered top scorers like Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield in the national semifinals.
And when Jenkins hit that Killer 3 to win the national title against North Carolina I felt exhilarated, and millions of other sports fans in the Philly region did too.
The city-sponsored parade that followed was an exclamation point to a remarkable run by a remarkable bunch of kids.
And, as the rally on Dilworth Plaza was ending the cheers for “Nova Nation” was a reminder of how important sports are in our complicated lives.
They divert us from the more mundane matters of the day, they soothe or feathers and make us feel better.
And, in the awful year of 2016, they saved our sanity.