I Pray I Never See Anything Like That Again
I've watched a lot of sports over my lifetime and I can honestly say that I've never feared for someone's life while in the midst of competition. That was, of course, until last night.
We've all seen violent collisions in football, monstrous beatings in boxing and in MMA and baseball players hit in the head with 90 plus MPH fastballs. But nothing could have prepared me for what I watching live last night in the final few moments of the Daytona 500.
On the final lap, while in the lead, Ryan Newman's car not only flipped upside down, his car smashed into the wall, and then he was rammed on the driver's side by another car trying unsuccessfully to avoid the wreck. With gasoline leaking from the engine, his car lay it's hood, appearing to be seconds from bursting into flames. It was the worst crash many racing experts have ever seen during a race, and far and away the worst I've ever witnessed.
What appeared to be an incredible Daytona 500 win for a beloved driver had turned into racing's worst nightmare in the blink of an eye. In what felt like an eternity, but was really just seconds, safety crews were at his # 6 car extinguishing the flames while attempting to extract his body from the twisted metal.
My heart hurt, my chest pounded. My eyes couldn't turn away from the wreckage. Was he dead? There was no word, just that he had been taken to the hospital.
Two things happened last night that I've never done before upon watching a sporting event. For starters, I refreshed my Twitter feed for almost 2 hours while I waited for some kind of news that he was at least alive. The other: I prayed.
I don't pray very often but last night I prayed for Ryan Newman and his family. I prayed for a man that - full disclosure - I knew very little about. But in my 2 hours of Twitter obsessing and refreshing, I learned that he was a father of two young girls, recently separated, a terrific driver, a hulk of a man, and one hell of a nice guy.
I prayed a little more. Millions of other American's prayed too.
After about two hours, NASCAR officials finally gave us word that Newman was in stable but serious condition. I have never been more relieved to hear the words 'stable' in my life. Considering what I had just witnessed a few hours prior, that felt like the best case scenario.
The excitement and unpredictability of live sports is something that I thirst for. I'm an action junkie and I love the danger and risk involved in sports like race car driving, football, boxing and MMA and that's a big part of the reason I watch and we're lying to ourselves if we can't admit that. I never, ever root for injury but there is a certain adrenaline rush in knowing that at any moment, something you've never seen before may happen.
Last night it did happen and I pray I never witness anything like that again.
Fans and announcers use the word 'miracle' way too much in sports; a miraculous putt, a miraculous shot, a miraculous comeback. Ryan Newman surviving that crash was the closest thing to an actual miracle that I think I've ever witnessed in sports or otherwise.