Commentary: It's time to take the field
Thursday September 13, 2001
Tuesday's attack on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. was more than just an attack on American society, sensibility and safety. It was an attack on the American way of life.
That way of life must continue despite the attacks. Malls must reopen, government buildings must somehow begin running again and sporting events - as unimportant as they may seem right now - must continue.
On Tuesday, the terrorists who commandeered four planes and crashed them into the very structures that they thought would bring America down achieved their purpose. It's that simple. Like robbers who come into your house when you're not home, the terrorists kicked out one of America's most vital legs and managed to do irreparable damage, sneaking out in the cloak of night.
And like victims of a robbery, Americans are trying to figure out not only who committed the crime, but how they can make a house become home again.
America was caught by surprise on Tuesday and paid dearly for it. It was the longest day in recent memory, one meant to shake American society to its core.
But, in the end, the United States remained intact. Stunned, but intact.
That said, it's time to get back to normal. Among other things, that means bringing back professional, collegiate and high school sports as soon as possible.
Not that the games themselves will mean anything. It's hard to justify watching a baseball game when there is a more important game - possibly war - playing out on CNN. It's even harder to hate a Raider fan when all Americans - and, contrary to my gut feeling, Raider fans are actually people - need to come together to rebuild a devastated nation. Sports are stupid and inconsequential, yet completely necessary.
Sports are a part of our routine. As Americans, we value the time we spend watching, listening to, talking about and arguing over sports. Sometimes, we identify ourselves as small clans, all with the same favorite ballclubs - Yankee fans, Wildcat fans, Bruins fans, Diamondbacks fans - as a way to come together with groups of people that we hardly know. Those people are support groups, and those support groups need to start meeting again.
With each game that is cancelled throughout the nation, we concede defeat more and more. It's one thing that the cancellation of flights nationwide has stranded people everywhere, but as soon as teams have the luxury to travel to their destinations, the games need to be played.
Look at today's paper - how much of it is dedicated to the bombing? Three quarters, maybe? We need sports now more than ever. Athletics act, as they have since the days of World War II, as a diversion from the real world, a sort of fantasy land for those people weary from hearing statistics and seeing the carnage around them.
Heck, baseball was even played during World War II, except for D-Day in 1943, when the nation was too busy celebrating a win over Hitler to drag itself out to the ballpark. Now should be no different. The nation needs to come together, and sporting events are some of the most unifying gatherings out there.
People need sports. People in New York City should be allowed to hop on the subway and go to Yankee Stadium to escape the nightmare most folks have been living for the past few days. Pentagon workers in D.C. should be able to turn on a Redskins game after a hard day at work and have the ability to relax for a few hours, even if it does mean watching the 'Skins get knocked around by most teams they play.
Sports - along with plays, movies and outdoor activities - have helped contribute to the American way of life, the cavalier sprit that separates us from other countries.
They've become - like it or not - a part of American society. As Americans, we can't let them win.