It’s about sports, but it really isn’t.
It’s about life. And death. And the undeniable fact that to live is to die, that there is no way around the natural progression of things.
Nick Charles is going to die. It may happen in the next few weeks or months, it may be sooner than that.
Nick Charles was one of the original legends of CNN, teaming up with Fred Hickman for twenty-some years to do Sports Tonight, the network’s answer to ESPN’s SportsCenter. It was always a better show, in my opinion, than SC was – and this was back in the day when SC was more about sports and less about shtick. When the network dropped Sports Tonight (and what do they have in that timespot now? AC360, as if that’s an improvement), Charles went to Showtime, and then to HBO.
A while ago I wrote about Charles’ battle with cancer – a battle which, as this heartbreaking article tells us, he is going to lose. But it’s the way he has prepared for his defeat: his determination and his faith, his defiance and acceptance. It’s such a damn cliché to say that it’s an inspiration, so I’d rather not bother. When he says he’s ready for death, I believe him, and I’m happy for him in the way we should be when we consider that death in an earthly life leads to birth in an eternal one. The sorrow, as it is, is deeply felt by his family, friends and loved ones, who will lose the pleasure of his company. And those of us, like me, who knew him only from television but admired and liked him.
I’m not Oprah – I don’t shed tears at the drop of a hat, but I was deeply moved by this story, saddened and encouraged at the same time. In particular, I defy anyone to remain emotionless as Charles’ doctors tell him what he is likely to experience in the last week of his life.
Read this, and watch the video. And if you’re the praying sort, say a prayer for Nick Charles and his family. And while you’re at it, say one for yourself, that you might meet death, and life, with the same courage. ◙