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“Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport.  The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.  The human drama of athletic competition. This is ABC’s Wide World of Sports.” 

That was the opening of the show that broadcast every Saturday afternoon (usually at 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm) from April 29, 1961 to January 3, 1998.  The members of the Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey team are not old enough to remember seeing or hearing this iconic introduction to whatever sporting event was scheduled for that week.  But I am.

I remember actually seeing the ski jumper fly down the ramp only to fall at the very end and tumble across the gap.  I remember seeing Janet Lynn skate gracefully across the ice like an angel.  I saw it all – not only in the intro, but when it was actually broadcast as an event. So I grew up with and watched the astounding success and heartbreaking defeat of many athletes that competed as well as entertained.

There are several sports I enjoy as a result of being brought up in a neighborhood where sports played a very big part of our childhood.  As an adult, what I have discovered about sports is this.

Whether competing myself or observing, sports takes me to a place where I think of nothing else.  My full attention is on the game, the performance, the event.  I am completely present in the moment.  It distracts me from the stresses of my every day life as well as elevates me when I witness something outstanding; something so unbelievable if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes I wouldn’t have believed someone could do that. 

To you, the members of the Tampa Bay Lightning, I say Thank you for a great season.  I thank you for giving me your thousands of hours of practice, your loyalty to each other and to your team for the pursuit of greatness.  I watched you play, I watched you win and I watched you lose.  But mostly – I watched you strive to be better each and every time you set foot on the ice.

Your twitter post read almost like an apology.  None needed.  I feel your disappointment in having such a perfect season only to be eliminated in the play offs.  I get it.  But do not for one moment think that you have in some way let your fans down.  I signed on to watch you play and that is what I got.  And for those brief few hours every time you faced another opponent, I was able to put aside the troubles of my own life and join your team and its strength in the hopes of “winning”…and that made me feel a whole lot better.

Contrary to popular belief, Lightning does strike twice!  You will be back; stronger than before and your fans will be right there with you cheering you on.  Congratulations on a great season and thank you for taking me along with you for the ride.  It was a great one.

The Roaring Ellie

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