Last night I was sitting next to a guy – who wasn’t even a Bengals fan…but was wearing a shirt w the face of some Bengals fan on it, with the hashtag: No Fan Left Behind.
The natural question I asked was: I’m sorry for your loss – who are you honoring with your shirt?
His response surprised me: “I don’t know the man, but I’m doing it for his family.”
Here’s the background: a Bengals fan in Arrowhead two weeks ago, during the AFC Championship game (where the Bengals won to get to the Super Bowl), brought a big head cut out of their family member who’d passed, to ‘be there’ for the game. Wanting to continue the tradition for the Super Bowl, unfortunately SoFi Stadium didn’t allow cut-outs, so the fan put their loved one on a t-shirt.
They took to social media & offered to match up family members of Bengals fans who’d passed, with fans going to the game: and not just Bengals fans – any fan.
In total, 848 fans wore the faces of loved ones who’d passed (and most not their own fam members), to the game. The couple who started the tradition coordinated the logistics of getting the pictures, having the shirts made, & running around LA to pass the shirts out to fans to wear them. What an incredible way to honor those we have lost…the day before Valentines Day.
I feel it was serendipitous in some way, that of all fans in a 70K seat stadium, with only 800+ wearing these shirts, I’d sit next to one of them.
I don’t know exactly what the “it” is – but I plan to do something with this idea I stumbled across, about loved ones lost, in this case – to suicide, through sports.
Suicide isn’t talked about enough. And, because of shame, the memories of loved ones are often forgotten. What if we used sports to honor their memory, celebrate their life, raise awareness, & eliminate shame! We can do this.