When Hurricane defensive lineman Bryan Pata was shot and killed outside his apartment complex, it sent shockwaves throughout the nation – and the university community is still buzzing with questions. On one side are the students, from those who played with him to those who’ve only seen him play, coming to grips with the loss and trying to make sense of it all. The community at large is still in shock, and the police officers working on his case have yet to find answers to the many questions we’re asking.
On the other side, there are those in the sports media, who have recklessly tried to use Pata’s death to highlight supposed problems underlying our football program, showing no consideration for the university community they’re damaging.
And in the middle of it all are the Miami Hurricanes themselves, who decided to play against the University of Maryland Terrapins this past Saturday despite just having suffered such a tragic loss. Larry Coker thought Pata would have been proud of the team’s effort, and as far as sports pundits go in their handling of the situation, Chris Fowler got it right when he described Pata’s death as something “that makes everything else that came before it seem trivial.” Take note, talking heads.
Maryland ended up beating the ‘Canes by one point. But even in their victory, the Terrapins rose above the masses of ranting pundits and not only held a moment of silence in memory of Pata, but each player also donated their game day meal money to Pata’s family.
Here, at our humble little alcove at the edge of Coral Gables, we’d like to extend a heartfelt thanks to the Terrapins for such an exceptional display of solidarity, sportsmanship and most of all, humanity. We’re positive the community in general, and Pata’s family in particular, appreciate your gift. At a time when it’s generally recognized that the football program is in a rut, widely viewed as the laughing stock of the ACC (and quite possibly the entire nation) and widely derided by other teams and talking heads on ESPN as either a mess or a disgrace to college football, it’s rare to get these wonderful gestures from anyone. The fact that it came from an opponent, on gameday, made it all the more meaningful.
We would also like to note that Florida State University, notoriously Miami’s arch-rival on the field, showed their respect for Pata and the UM community by wearing”#95″ patches on their helmets during their game last weekend.
Every team would be wise to take note of Maryland’s example whenever tragedy strikes a team – any team, not just us. Because like Chris Fowler said, everything else really is trivial. Especially after the loss of a life.