With the passing of Darryl Kile, once again death has stuck the world of sports, just like it does every human endeavor.
It's funny, but somehow most of us expect death to take place in other places, but not in sports, particularly to athletes in their prime. Yet we do expect it in some sports, like auto racing. But not to baseball players or other athletes in games that are not usually death defying.
The grim reaper comes in all forms; it could be a ball to the head, slamming into a backboard support or a massive head injury from a hard hit on the grid iron. But for these young guys, the ones in their prime who play a game they love and make a living at it, it is difficult for all of us to take.
And sometimes, even the death of an old time athlete takes us down a peg.
Kile, who was a 33 year old father of three, was found dead in his hotel bed on Saturday after he didn't show up at Wrigley Field in Chicago where his team, the St. Louis Cardinals were playing a game.
His father's death at an early age (44) may have predicted Kile's own demise, but who would have thought it would come in his early 30's, while he was in top shape.
That death followed the passing of Jack Buck, 77, a famous baseball announcer and in the local area Adam Hunt, 17, an East High athlete who collapsed last month during some workouts and died last week in the hospital.
Obviously, age has little to do with death; 17, 33, or 77, it comes sometime.
We talk a lot about it and we worry more. We take action to prevent it, and unfortunately some people take action to cause it.
Death is no respecter of status. It can happen to the greatest of athletes during a game, or take it's toll on fans. Just this weekend three people were killed when a racing car went off a course in Ireland.
But this past hockey season saw one of the most unusual deaths of a spectator, when Brittanie Cecil, 13, was struck in the neck with a puck while sitting fairly high in the stands at Columbus Blue Jackets National Hockey League game on March 16. She actually got up and walked out of the arena, but later died in a hospital. It was the first time, according to documented records, that a fan at a game had been killed by a flying hockey puck. The league is now going to put up nets to protect fans from that type of accident.
But regardless of what we do, the field of play and it's confines have no more protection than anyplace else on the planet when the end comes calling. We can provide safer places to play, better equipment and more stringent rules; all of these have helped prevent death over the years.
But somehow, somewhere, it comes; penetrating all our defenses and invading our lives and our loves.
Almost universally, few of us are ever ready for it, even though we know it is inevitable.
A friend of mine told me not long ago that every time her kids leave the house she kisses them. She says you never know.
That made me think. I have begun to hug my big burly boys a lot more and a lot harder than I used to. At their young age I'm sure it embarrasses them to some extent, but they need to get used to it.
One day, one way or another we will part each others company, and I just don't want it to be without love.
I just hope Darryl Kile got to hug his kids before he left his house to go to Chicago to face not the Cubs, but eternity.