Throughout every sports season, there are moments that make you realize that sports and games are just that; a game. Yeah, sports are vitally important to its teams and fans and blogs like ours wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for them, but, in the grand scheme of things, sports are just a fun, entertaining way to pass time and make a living. In college athletics, there are plenty of moments that put life and sports in perspective. Last February, it was Austin Hatch’s Senior Day at Michigan, a moment I was lucky enough to be in attendance for. This past Saturday, it was not only Purdue superfan Tyler Trent’s story that was featured on ESPN’s College GameDay, but it was him somehow being in attendance for the game at Purdue’s Ross-Ade Stadium Saturday night.
Tom Rinaldi always knows how to tug on one’s heartstrings. Every Saturday in the fall, his emotional stories on Gameday force all of us to take a step back and realize that there are far more important things in life than sports. This past Saturday’s story on Purdue super-fan Tyler Trent was no different. Indy Star’s Gregg Doyel did an outstanding job telling Trent’s story as well.
While Purdue dominated Ohio State, the upset wasn’t even the biggest miracle inside that stadium over the weekend. The biggest miracle was Trent being in attendance and watching his one dream this season come to fruition. He dreamed of his Boilermakers somehow upsetting the No. 2-ranked Buckeyes. It happened, and Trent was there to see it with his own eyes. The doctors didn’t want him to go, they even said it couldn’t happen. Twenty-four hours prior to the game he was throwing up and didn’t even know if he’d make it. Yet, there seemed to be nothing that could stop him from being there to watch his team win one of their biggest games in quite some time. It was a special moment.
— ESPN (@espn) October 21, 2018
During the game, he watched from high above the field in a suite, but when it became clear that Purdue was going to pull off the upset, he was wheeled down to the field in his wheelchair and eventually into the locker room, where he celebrated with the Boilermakers players and coaches, the same players and coaches who have been by his side every step of the way.
Trent’s story is just another example of how sports are a simple game and in the end, don’t really matter in the grand schemes of life. Winning and championships are fun, but a story like Trent’s puts all of that and sports in general in perspective. Ohio State may have lost Saturday night, but watching that kid see his dream of his team beating the Buckeyes was something many of us will never forget. It was a moment that made all sports fans, Buckeye Nation specifically, take a step back and realize that it’s just a game. Trent’s Boilermakers pulled off a huge upset Saturday night, here’s to hoping he pulls off an upset and beats cancer again.
The 20-year-old and former Purdue student battling terminal bone cancer who is already in hospice care knew his days are numbered, yet he did everything in his power to be there Saturday night. He was forced to withdraw from school last month due to his condition continuing to get worse, but nothing could prevent him from being there Saturday night. It meant the world to him, and his presence seemed to mean even more to the Boilermakers.
“You guys know ‘Tyler Strong’ means something,” Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm told the team. “This young man has been strong. His family’s been strong. We’re happy as heck to support him and to have him as our team captain. For him to even be here is remarkable. The guy never makes excuses. He never complains. Huge smile on his face every day, he’s got a great attitude. He’s about giving back to other people.
“That’s what being a Boilermaker is all about.”
Trent then addressed the team, saying, “Thanks for leaving your heart out on the field and for showing the nation what being a Boilermaker is all about.”
Losing sucks, don’t get me wrong. But want to know what sucks even more? Cancer. When you’re feeling down and out about your team losing, just remember stories like Hatch’s and Trent’s. They’re both great reminders of why many of us care far too much about sports. Those types of stories put sports and life in perspective, and it’s always a good reminder. One that is much needed. Saturday night belonged to Purdue, but in all actuality, it actually belonged to Trent.
Now go beat cancer’s ass again, Tyler. You not only have all of Purdue on your side but after this weekend, you have all of college football on your side as well. There may be separate sides in every game, but in the end, all of us are #TylerStrong.