The past few days have not been good ones in our country. The despicable bombing at the Boston Marathon, followed a couple of days later by the senate vote that killed President Obama’s bill that would have made it tougher for criminals and the mentally ill to get guns. Many tears were shed on both fronts and rightly so.
A few times I have used this column or blog to make my opinion known on topics other than sports. After all, I am a tax paying citizen of our wonderful country; and I have been a journalist for more than forty years. Today, I am taking that opportunity once again.
The Boston Marathon has been a truly bright shining star in our country for 117 years. 117 years without a major disturbance, until this week. Running enthusiasts from all over the world converged in Boston to run the twenty-six mile course in what is no doubt, the world’s most famous marathon. Bombs planted near the finish line, exploded Monday afternoon, killing three people and injuring 170 more. Among the three killed was an eight year old little boy. The FBI may be closing in on two men they feel are responsible, and surprisingly, neither man looks to be foreign. They look like average, every day, American young men. Both wore ball caps; one black and one white. They each appeared to have a back pack in the video, and FBI investigators say they have video of one of the suspects dropping his back pack near the finish line, just moments before the explosion.
I have overheard several people say, “What is happening……? What is wrong with people today?” To answer those questions, I would say, “This is nothing new.” Remember the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995? (eighteen years ago today) 168 people died when Timothy McVeigh parked a truck loaded with explosives just outside the Federal Office Building. Terrorism, both foreign and domestic has been around for years and sadly, will continue to be around. As long as fear and hate mongers are alive, we will be forced to live with it. Bombings can happen anywhere, as a little more than a year after the disaster in Oklahoma City, a bomb exploded in Atlanta, Georgia at the 1996 Summer Olympics, killing several and injuring many more.
Political statements fueled simply by hate, is the reason. Points made by murdering innocent people, is a way to gain notoriety for your cause. White supremacist groups, urban gangs, Al-Quada, and others are all the same; they care nothing at all for the value of human life.
The Senate vote on Wednesday of this week that voted down the President’s gun law changes was the result of a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign by the conservative National Rifle Association. Even though the Senate has an edge in Democrats, enough of them voted against their party and the bill was defeated. The fact that the bill was defeated was not that important. The importance can be found in the fact that more lawmakers chose to do nothing at all, following the shooting deaths of twenty-seven children at Sandy Hook Elementary school last November. Doing nothing at all seems to be the norm for our legislators on Capitol hill.
Even though the terrible incidents I’ve talked about are nothing new, it appears to me that the basic differences in our society are growing further apart. A society that can no longer work problems out and solve issues can be more terroristic than all the white supremacists, gang members and al-quada combined. It could result in our society being torn apart.
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).