Sept. 8, 2011 -- The history of every athletic league is peppered with tales of heroes and triumph.
But as the recent case of a hockey team in a devastating plane crash illustrates, the pursuit of athletic glory can suddenly morph into tragedy. At least 43 people, including members of Russia's Lokomotiv ice hockey team, died after a plane from the western Russian city of Yaroslovl crashed.
The incident has rattled hockey fans worldwide. The team, who were on their way to a season opening match, included several former NHL players.
In this slideshow, we explore the fates of similarly devastated athletic programs, and how home team and fan support stayed in the game against all odds.
In what may be the most well known major disaster to involve a sports team, the 1970 crash of Southern Airways Flight 932 claimed the lives of all 75 passengers aboard, including the Marshall University football team and coaching staff.
Efforts to rebuild the program following the tragic season were chronicled in the 2000 documentary "Marshall University: Ashes to Glory" as well as the 2006 film "We Are Marshall."
The crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 led to what is the most grisly story on this list.
On Oct. 13, 1972, the plane crashed into the Andes mountains flying out of Montevideo, Uruguay, and bound for Santiago, Chile. Out of the 45 passengers, which included members of the Old Christians Club rugby team, only 12 died in the immediate aftermath of the crash. The rest endured cold and starvation, which forced survivors to eventually resort to cannibalism. An avalanche even claimed the lives of eight passengers.
Eventually, after two months without rescue, three of the survivors embarked on a mission to try to find help on Dec. 12. Nearly 10 days later, they found rescue and later sent help back to the remaining survivors.
Out of the 45 original passengers, only 16 remained. This photo shows a reunion of survivors and their family members.
On April 27, 1993, the Zambian national soccer team boarded a charter flight bound for Gabon for a World Cup qualifying match. The plane plunged into the Atlantic Ocean as a result of pilot and mechanical error, killing all passengers and crew members aboard.
The team's captain, Kalusha Bwalya, seen here next to the graves of his teammates, was not aboard the flight, however, as he had been playing a club match in the Netherlands at the time.
On May 5, 1949, a plane flying out of Lisbon, Portugal, carrying the entire Torino FC team, a soccer club based out of Italy crashed during preparations for landing in Turin. The entire team, the club's manager, five reserves and two trainers were among the 31 casualties of the plane crash.
The club was known throughout Italy for their high quality of play and were approaching what may have been a championship season. The crash devastated Italian soccer fans, who collectively mourned with memorials and a tribute game.
On Feb. 6, 1958, British European Airways Flight 609 made several attempts to take off from an icy runaway in Munich, Germany. On its final attempt, the plane crashed.
Aboard the plane were 44 passengers, including members of the Manchester United soccer team. The team was en route to a European Cup match in what was then Yugoslavia. Half of the passengers aboard, including several of the players, died in the crash.
Other players, such as the team's captain and its goalkeeper, assisted in rescue efforts to help survivors escape the wreckage.
The Bluffton University tragedy may be the most recent entry on this list. The baseball team, en route to a tournament in Sarasota, Fla., boarded their coach bus on March 2, 2007.
After the driver mistakenly entered the exit ramp of a carpool lane in Atlanta, the driver lost control and the bus rolled over a concrete barrier, off a bridge and onto the street below. Seven of the people on the bus, including five players, the driver and the driver's wife, were killed in the accident. More than 20 people were taken to area hospitals to be treated for injuries.