Warshaw NE2

In the 1st person: Bobby Warshaw on Newtown shooting

The following is an essay written by FC Dallas midfielder Bobby Warshaw on his reaction to the tragedy in Newtown and why he's participating in Soccer Night in Newtown.

For the first time in my life, an event totally separate from my immediate world has emotionally shaken me. I was too young for 9/11. A 7th grader can't grasp international terrorism. I didn't understand all of the hoopla; why aren't they playing the Monday Night Football game right now? I wasn't mature enough to understand the massacre at Columbine. Obama getting elected and Bin Laden getting shot were memorable but not breathtaking.  For me, Sandy Hook Elementary is my grandparents' Pearl Harbor; my parents' JFK assassination; my older brothers' 9/11. This was the first time I read a news blurb and said "whhattt the hell," the first time I turned the channel from SportsCenter to CNN; the first time I wanted to watch and know everything because I felt I owed it to everyone in Newtown, Connecticut, and my heart didn't feel right sending its focus anywhere else.

But what happens next? We can't turn back time, prevent tragedy or erase grief. What am I, as a single individual, supposed to do after I hear the news and feel my initial reaction? That is the hard part. It is a choice I get to make. Do I dwell on the emotion? It doesn't seem right to move on from the sadness while the families in Connecticut continue facing unspeakable grief. Why am I the lucky one when they didn't do anything to deserve the pain? I could have been born to a family in Newtown or Aurora or in the wake of Katrina or Sandy. On the other hand, what does dwelling on their pain accomplish? The victims cannot feel my empathy and my empathy cannot decrease their pain.

Beyond the emotional, what am I supposed to do to make a tangible difference? Talk is cheap, right? Pondering isn't enough. Tragedy has happened and repair -- emotionally, physically, or both -- needs to be done. Some people send a prayer, or a thought, or money, or time.

There are a lot of horrible things that happen, a lot of victims and causes that deserve resources. How do I decide what is more deserving than others? How do I decide which organizations are honest? Maybe I shouldn't send money but instead I need to get up and go and help. There are a lot of kids who need to be tutored and houses that need to be rebuilt in this world. But who? When? Where?

It's the choices that always get me. I understand the reality of life is that bad things happen. We hope it doesn't happen to us but either way it happens. The decisions during the aftermath of tragedy are all we can control. Yet, when we face too many choices, often we don't pick any of them. The decision-making itself becomes too overwhelming.

A teammate and roommate on this trip, Zach Loyd, told me, "We have an opportunity as soccer players to help people. We can use our soccer to do good things." The tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut is the most disturbing event in my memory. Through MLS we have the opportunity to help, to bring a bit of sunshine and laughter to a town in desperate need of our nation's love. I couldn't have asked for a better place to do good things.

Today, I am happy to say I don't have a dilemma. I don't have to ponder 'if' or 'why' or 'how much.' When the league asked if we would help with Soccer Night in Newtown, it was a no-brainer. I don't know the plan for the day. I don't know what I am supposed to do or say. I just know this is exactly where I am supposed to be. I want to make a kid smile. Three weeks ago I was shaken and confused, today I know exactly what to do.