Thursday, January 31, 2008

Damn It

Warning: this posting won't leave you smiling. It might make you sad, or maybe angry.

I'm a little of both right now. Here's why: three days ago, a dear friend called to tell me her 21-year-old son was dead. Drugs.

In my business, we tell stories like this all the time. In fact, a heroin overdose death is hardly even newsworthy anymore (not even in the Dallas area, where our friends live and where at least 25 young people have died in the last couple of years because of a cheap form of heroin called "cheese").

So why am I telling you? Why does this belong in a sports-related blog? Only as a reminder that the most dangerous drugs in America today are not steroids. Despite all the attention we pay to performance-enhancing drugs, we continue to lose our sons and daughters to the same damned poison that's been around for years.

If you want to know the brief details about Cory, here's his obituary. It fails, of course, to tell you everything. I have memories of a handsome boy sprinting into the surf at South Padre Island with his boogie-board. Of him bursting through the front door and dumping his load of soccer gear. Of him in the midst of a gang of neighborhood kids bouncing with delight on a backyard trampoline under the pecan trees.

Cory was not a world-class athlete, but he was athletic: soccer, football, even a year of college lacrosse before he began his descent into drug use. He was a sports fan (UT, the Cowboys, the Rangers).

Yet none of those connections to life was strong enough to pull him away from the tractor-beam of hard drugs. I remember reading Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch, about the hold that sports-fandom has over many men, and thinking maybe all of us who suffer for our teams are a little pathetic.

Now, I just wish Cory was around to suffer for his teams.

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