Murphy: Recognizing the Joy in Sports Sadness

There’s no crying in baseball, allegedly…

When’s the last time something in sports touched you?  I’m not talking about making you scream or unleash an end zone dance after a touchdown. Nor am I talking about a boneheaded throw by the quarterback that made you want to kick in your TV screen you we so pissed.

I’m talking about where you were so moved it was impossible to contain your emotions.

People were weeping in the streets after New Orleans won the Super Bowl. It was the joy factor. There’s something incredibly emotional about seeing players overcome defeat or injury. In the case of New Orleans, many tied the destruction of the city to the Super Bowl win. Ditto for Japan’s first-even win recently over the US Women’s team in the World Cup.

No crying in baseball? 

When you learned of Paul Splittorff’s death, how did you feel?  How about Met’s star Gary Carter’s brain cancer. Did it remind you of Dick Howser or Dan Quisenberry?

I was in a state of disbelief when I heard of the passing of the Royals Darrell Porter. 


And just last week we saw a young boy named Dylan openly weep when he received a baseball from Boston Red Sox player Josh Beckett.  It was the real life version of that famous MEAN Joe Greene Coke towel commercial. 

Were you not moved when you saw the video of a kid named Ian in Arizona catch a ball and then give it to another young boy named Nicholas who was upset?  How about father who died trying to catch a ball for his son? 

Any of that impact you?

How about Colts footballer Jeff Saturday embracing Patriots owner Robert Kraft as he spoke of the passing of Kraft’s wife Myra during the lockout labor negotiations?

Did you weep the first time you saw Brian’s Song?

Has sports ever touched your soul?

I was a classmate of KU assistant coach Neil Dougherty.  Neil coached during the Roy Williams era and I saw him a few years back at a high school reunion. Wow, he looked great! Other than a few facial lines and his Afro being gone, he looked pretty much like he did back in high school. I was trying to suck in my gut and reposition my man boobs so they’d be less obvious.

Neil was working a basketball training camp in Indianapolis. Went out for his morning jog. And just died on the side of the road. His unclaimed, unidentified body lay in a morgue for days.

And while all the quotes were about what a great family man he was, no one from his family had even reported him missing. 

His co workers and supervisors contacted the police and he was finally identified. He was so young and apparently healthy to have died.

Neil’s funeral was held in his home town of Leavenworth. It was a who’s who of KU basketball with Roy Williams, Danny Manning, Drew Gooden, Kirk Hinrich, Scott Pollard, and many others present. 

Tears were shed over this premature death.

No crying? I’d argue that sports is a way for us to comfortably release our emotions. Emotions  we often feel compelled to suppress.  And when I think of Neil, Darrel’, Reggie White, Al Cowens, Dan, Dick, and so many others I’d prefer someone to hand me a tissue, not a brew.

Think of the memories, moments, or people that have moved you and impacted your love of sports?

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11 Responses to Murphy: Recognizing the Joy in Sports Sadness

  1. chuck says:

    Nice start to the sports week

  2. bschloz says:

    Man Tears
    I cried when Marty up by 2 did the genuflect inside the Chargers 20 and I lost my -3.

    Crying…are you kidding…I could never watch Rudy in public..Hell I cry when they Horatio gets his guy in CSI….. if Royals or Chiefs won the trophy I’d be crying like Roy Williams in an onion factory.

    Neil Dougterty strange sad story….die jogging ?

  3. Cliffy says:

    I cried when I wrote this song
    Sue me if I play too long
    This brother is free
    I’ll be what I want to be

    I’ll learn to work the saxophone
    I’ll play just what I feel
    Drink Scotch whisky all night long
    And die behind the wheel
    They got a name for the winners in the world
    I want a name when I lose
    They call Alabama the Crimson Tide
    They call me Deacon Blues

  4. Kerouac says:

    The storm after the calm
    I did not cry, became resolute when (to borrow media quotes) clerk the hunt (“I hope he’ll be back”) lied about retaining Herm Edwards (“I expect to be back”)… then I laughed when I saw what the fat foxboro cat (egoli) drug in (hailme)… I’m still laughing, to the tune of 30-7 – and then some. < More to come (insight too) aft I restrain myself...

  5. chuck says:

    Well, at least Kerowhack didn’t bust our balls
    with an Edward R. Murrow quote during a sports take.

  6. Kerouac says:

    More? You want MORE!?
    I love it when they beg.

    Grab a sandwich and a big frosty orange, and pull up a chair…

    I cried when…

    Jan Stenerud missed that Christmas Day field goal 1971 vs Miami, the Playoff Game; actually, I cried all 3x to match his whiffs that day of infamy when his right foot gave birth to Lin Elliott.

    It was not the first time Jan pried open mine tear ducts: @KC November 19, 1967 vs SD before the then largest crowd in Chiefs history, the rookie missed a 24 yard fg wide right with :19 seconds remaining to kill the Chiefs fading chance repeat as the AFL/ West Champions; the Raiders 44-22 Thanksgiving Day demolition of us the following Thursday was the coup de grace.

    These were the same ’67 Chiefs that beat the Bears 66-24, beat the Raiders 48-0 & were leading the Rams 24-13 at the half in LA (before resting on their laurels & losing 44-24, 2nd half fade.) They more than double Houston’s offensive yards yet the Oilers beat them for Christ’s sake. Otis drops a bomb 5-yards behind Willie Brown and Oakland prevails by 2 points, another game.

    As I’ve stated afore, Jan’s arrival coincided with Stram’s restraint on offense ’67-’70. Not a matter other teams improving & ‘catching up’ with KC so much as the Mentor’s playing it safe via fg’s (least attempts) in lieu tds, said the obvious if not admitted he result.

    Suffice to say if I’ve left any doubt, 1967 made me cry copiously. From 1966 AFL Champs/Superbowl equals the Pack thru almost 3 quarters, to 3rd place 9-5 also rans ’67. The ’70 season that followed the Superbowl Championship ’69 was bad… 1967 was worse.


    I did NOT cry when…

    #24 Willie Mays was stumbling around in CF the Mets trying to find the ball ’73 World Series, looking every bit like Chiefs latter day ‘toast’ #29 dinkle-berry trying to locate the Chargers Antonio Gates (Psst! He’s in the endzone, again – TD, ye faux all pro/#1 BUST.)
    Mays was great – he was also a Major League ‘showboat’, admitting years aft the fact he intentionally played to crowds by wearing his cap loose so it would fly off when he ran outfield or bases. I do not cry for Say Hey because, well… I am a Dodgers fan.

    Yet, I didst (almost) cry for the GIANTS in 2010 when they won their 6th Championship (same as my Dodgers) and first in San Francisco since their arrival there (they actually declined participation in another WS 1904, which could’ve resulted in their 7th.)
    I hinted at gusher because… though I’m a Dodgers fan, was happy for the Orange & Black. It is in this same way that while the Chiefs have always been my favorite team, the Raiders have always been my second, Chargers third & Packers (Superbowl 1 victory aside) my next.

    Speaking of which, another 2nd half: that 30-7 RAVEN DOMINATION of kcindy was as watching a repeat the 2nd half Superbowl 1 – wouldn’t you agree?

    Tee hee.


    And when the prime of sporting life gives way nightfall… cry.

    I cried when the Chiefs grew old, halt & lame: Taylor, Tyrer, Buchanan, Bell, Dawson and Stram et al… four decades later, I still cry (although that has more to do with how the game today – as the players & coaches etc. – are poor replicas of when it was a game.)


    The 60’s Packers were & shall forever remain the greatest pro football team – ever. Rocky Marciano too as pugilist – the UNdefeated Heavyweight Champion of the World.

    Wilt Chamberlain – uber alles. jordan & the rest aft? Gesundheit.

    Howe, Hull & Orr > any 3 gretzsky’s.

    Palmer, Hogan & Player > Nicklaus, woods and any third you’d care to add.



  7. Markus Aurelius says:

    I’m a die-hard Chiefs/Royals/Mizzou fan and have experienced
    a lifetime of fan-heartache from each of the three but, honestly, I’ve never been moved to tears from sports.

    It’s not for a lack of emotional wherewithal either — I’ll admit I’ve shed tears while watching TV (Extreme Home Makeover) and movies (Life is Beautiful, Life as a House, etc….). I was sad for his friends and family when Split recently died but I wasn’t moved to tears. Felt pretty much the same as other tragic incidents have splashed across the Sports Page over the years.

    I can’t imagine crying tears of joy if any of my teams won championships. I’d be screaming and hollering ecstatically but I doubt tears would well up. Tears of joy came when I got married and at various times with each of our 3 kids but, as much as I love sports, it’ll never quite rise to that level.

    Nevertheless, I’d love to be proven wrong since it means one of the 3 will have a championship in hand.

  8. rick says:

    Thomas Hall of Fame
    Forgot one. The Derrick Thomas Hall Of Fame induction. Especially when you saw Marty blubberling like crazy. Very emotional. Same with Hank Stram going in since you knew he didn’t have much longer.

    Concur on Rudy.

  9. Hearne Christopher says:

    Guess I knew too many behind the scenes stories on DT to shed any tears there.

    We all kinda found out about DT’s double life a little later, didn’t we?

  10. Rick says:

    Over it
    By the time he was inducted into the hall of fame I was over all the scandal and just thought of him as a player. This is obviously nit picking but I thought it was a mistake to have his kid talk, his mom’s outfit was terrible, but Carl Peterson did well though he was a little long. You you could feel the emotion.

  11. brad says:

    tears in sports
    nice article from Murphy…. no one has mentioned tears in sports when you kids make you proud. My daughter was part of Blue Springs High Schools best ever 4×800 state champions.. i am crying like a baby while taping the state finals victory..never get tired of watching that!! i’ve cried at all my kids best sports victories…

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