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UA News
A year later: Some change, a lot the same

Jeff Lund
By Jeff Lund
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday September 10, 2002

A year ago tonight I was watching Monday Night Football.

My Broncos beat the Giants in Denver but their playoff hopes where shattered when wide receiver Ed McCaffrey broke his leg in the first half. That was an important play öö until it was put into perspective.

The next day, the thoughts of playoffs, wins and Super Bowls were far from mind.

It was all about loss.

Watching the final minutes of people's lives unfold before my eyes as the replay of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers was shown over and over again.

I walked around campus numb.

I couldn't decide if I was angry, scared or still asleep.

It was surreal.

Like many other students, being away from home was not exactly the place I wanted to be.

Thousands of miles away, I stood in Tucson while my family was on the quiet shores of the Gulf of Alaska in my hometown of Klawock.

It wasn't that I wanted to go home to run away from the real world, I would just rather have been with my family as I tried to get a grip on what had happened.

Sports went on hold for days, though the jobs of many others remained active.

As the United States and the rest of the world tried to come to terms with what occurred in New York, Washington, D.C., and a field in Pennsylvania, professional athletes spent time with their families and teammates.

Sports writers, like myself, wrote about the empty stadiums, schedule changes and the state of mind of the affected athletes.

We deemed sports a microcosm of American life and put unprecedented faith, spirit and importance into our already large passion for sports.

When sports began again life was a little more normal.

Though President Bush encouraged us to go back to life, something seemed to be missing until we could "play ball" again.

Whether you were a sports fan or not, a post-Sept. 11 sports story was a good one from a financial standpoint, a fan's perspective or simply because it was the last thing to get back to normal, if there was such a thing.

On Sept. 15, thousands of people united in Tucson Electric Park to form a giant American flag.

They did this not to be in the papers or to be on the news, but just to be a part of something special öö at a baseball park.

We needed the games and I needed the games ÷ something to cheer for again, something to make us smile, even for us Colorado Rockies fans who knew our team had been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention since sometime in June, it just felt comforting to see them play again.

It is sad to see now, almost a year removed from last September, how things have changed, but really stayed the same.

Money came before "America's pastime" and almost kept the ballplayers off the field again, but this time for a much different reason. Luckily, the strike was avoided and many cited that players wanted to be on the field on Sept. 11, 2002.

Following the NBA season, many of the nation's best players were too good to represent their country in the World Championships, despite the games being on American soil.

But this is the greed and wealth of pro sports that sadly sometimes epitomizes life in America.

It is there when we need it to be. It is pure when we want it to be.

Personally, things started to get back to normal when the UA volleyball team took to the court öö the first Wildcat team to return to competition following that tragic day.

It really showed me how thankful I am for what we have right here: the coaches, athletes, training staffs and administration that kept working, training and playing through the confusion, anger and sadness.

Unpaid athletes playing their sports purely and helping return the country to a more stable state.

They too were öö in most cases öö thousands of miles away from their homes and families.

On the front page of the sports section of the Arizona Daily Wildcat on Sept. 12 was a shot of the UA football team on one knee ÷ heads down, in prayer.

Each with their own broken heart and cluttered mind, trying to make things right again as best they could, by playing a game.

Then, following an F-16 flyby and a moment of silence on Sept. 22, the Wildcats were back on the field.

My classmates, my team, my friends, with my country's flag stitched on their uniforms.

Though it has been nearly a year since our world changed and the healing began, things should still be kept in perspective. And just because we as a country are getting over the events of Sept. 11, we should still be as passionate about our beliefs, country and teams as we were the first time they took the field, because who knows what tomorrow will bring.


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