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September 13, 2001 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-09-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


e [i chi~n tiip
]PO)RTS

THURSDAY
SEPTEMBER 13, 2001

9A

JON
SCHWARTZ

You can't control fear, so
why play a football game?

n the wake of terrible tragedy,
life must be go on. I know that it
sounds cliche, I know that it
might seem hyperbolic. But right
now, there is nothing more true --
to show fear is to let terrorism win.
I understand that. I agree with it.
But I think there are limits. You
:'can't stop someone from being
.,afraid.
Football should not be played this
weekend. It shouldn't be played in
0: Michigan Stadium or any college or
professional field across the coun-
try. No sports should be played.
There are a lot of different rea-
sons being offered for why sports
should continue. Some I agree with,
most I don't. I think it's important
that the citizens of this country bat-
tle terrorism and death with life.
And for many, going about regular
life on a fall Saturday morning
includes a college football game.
That's understandable.
What isn't fair is making athletes
some of whom may be grieving,
some of whom may be terrified of
what danger lies in the sky, some of
whom simply may not feel ready to
get back onto the field - play in a
game of football.
Why? Because you can't stop
someone from being afraid.
thletes, by the nature of
what they do, are expected
to be strong. People believe
that a football player's sprained
ankle - an injury that may sideline
him for a quarter - should require
less recovery than an accountant's
twisted ankle - one that keeps him
home for a week.
Whether by the fans, media or
front office, an athlete out with a
questionable injury is often labeled
weak, even when that questionable
injury would "sideline" somebody
else for weeks. And sometimes, this
is legitimate. Call me inconsiderate,
but athletes are paid a great deal of
money to perform. They should be
able to play through some pain.
And yet we understand when a
basketball player takes a night off
to mourn the death of a loved one
with his surviving family members.
We accept that baseball players
should be permitted to watch their
sons and daughters be born, regard-
less of who his team is playing.
How is this diffeent?
A look around shows a country
mourning these days. A glance at a
newspaper or television station
shows that this is not yet over -
neither the threat nor the pain.
You can't stop someone from
grieving; you can't stop someone
from being afraid.
,
Athletes understand that one
of their central responsibili-
ties is doing whatever the
coach says. If he tells you to run,
you don't stop until he says so. If he
tells you to buy him a block of
cheese, you ask him what kind.
And if he tells you to play, you

play.
And if an athletic department
forces him to coach, you play.
An athlete doesn't have a choice.
Casey Clausen will be quarterback-
ing Tennessee on Saturday against
Florida. The teams decided not to
cancel the game, one of the biggest
of the conference season.
It doesn't matter if he's afraid to
cross the street. It doesn't matter if
two of his best friends died in the
World Trade Center. If he doesn't
play, Tennessee has virtually no
chance of winning. And in college
football, championship contenders
can't afford to lose. I'm simply
using Clausen as a fictitious exam-
ple, but I'm sure that there are many
athletes affected by what happened.
And the athletic departments at
Tennessee, Florida and other
schools around the country are forc-
ing players to choose between
mourning the worst terror o attack
to hit our nation aTra
team down.
That's not fair and it's not right.
You can't stop someone from
feeling sick. You can't stop some-
one from grieving. You can't stop
someone from being afraid.
s I write this, Michigan's
football schedule shows a
game this Saturday after-
noon. The Big Ten agreed to let
each team decide whether or not to
play. Michigan is still deciding.
So I beg, I beg Athletic Director
Bill Martin and everyone else sit-
ting in a room right now deciding
what to do.
Don't play this game. It's the
wrong thing to do.
If there is a game, 110,000 people
will be invited to Michigan Stadium
on Saturday afternoon. And with
good reason, they'll probably feel
safe walking in.
I truly believe that if there is a
game, I will go, and I will be safe.
Nothing is going to happen to the
stadium.
But a small part of me keeps ring-
ing in. Nobody thought they were in
danger when they went to work on
Tuesday. No one thought their
office was a target. What,can we be
sure of these days?
I don't mean to awaken the
doomsday fears within you. Like I
said, I can't in a see anything hap-
pening on Saturday.
But why force 110,000 fans to make
an unnecessary decision. This is West-
ern Michigan. It is a meaningless game.
People need time to grieve. It
doesn't go away immediately. It
shouldn't go away immediately.
Mr. Martin, don't try to stop peo-
ple from focusing on the tragedy.
Don't try to stop people from feel-
ing sick. Don't try to stop people
from grieving.
Don't try to stop people from
being afraid.
Jon Schwartz can be reached at
jlsz@umich.edu.

Members of base-
ball's Colorado
Rockies warm up
on the Bank One
Ballpark field in
Phoenix.
All baseball games
through Thursday
have been post-
poned.
AP PHOTO

More events canceled
as sports world grieves

MILWAUKEE (AP) - As World
War II raged, President Franklin D.
Roosevelt ordered baseball games
to go on to boost the country's
morale.
Baseball has been a healing force
during national tragedies, and it
may be again as the United States
deals with Tuesday's terrorist
attacks in New York and Washing-
ton.
For now, though, it's too soon.
"The greatest country in the his-
tory in the world is being attacked,"
commissioner Bud Selig said. "So
all of this (baseball) doesn't mean
very much."
Though the playoffs are less than
three weeks away, Selig postponed
the entire schedule of games for
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
"in the interest of security and out
of a sense of deep mourning." He
didn't know when games would
resume.
"I think many people would hope
we'd start Friday," Selig said. "But
I haven't made that judgment yet.
I'm not close to making it."
Even before Wednesday's sched-
ule was called off, the Chicago
White Sox headed out of New
York, going by bus to Cleveland.
"We're leaving," manager Jerry
Manuel said.
There was no word if the games
would be made up, but Houston
Astros owner Drayton McLane said
Wednesday morning he was confi-
dent games were being postponed,
not canceled completely.
"There are so few games and pen-
nant races are still very, very tight,"
said McLane, whose Astros lead the
NL Central by five games. "Just
one or two games could alter whlo
ultimately wins the pennant."
Aside from work stoppages, it's
the first time since World War I in
1918 that consecutive days of regu-
lar-season play were wiped out.
Atlanta pitcher John Burkett, at
home in Dallas following an off-
day, borrowed the SUV of former
teammate Rusty Greer and planned
to drive about 850 miles to Atlanta,
where he had been scheduled to
pitch against the Philadelphia
Phillies on Wednesday.

"I felt obligated to my team to be
there," he said. "I would've felt
sick watching the game at home,
knowing I could've and should've
been there, but wasn't."
Baseball's quarterly meeting,
scheduled to begin Tuesday after-
noon in Milwaukee, also was can-
celed.
Owners had several pressing
issues to discuss with the current
labor agreement expiring Oct. 31,
but none seemed very important in
the aftermath of the attacks.
"We can't worry about our game,
our business," Arizona Diamond-
backs owner Jerry Colangelo said.
"What were we all doing here? The
people who were here, waiting for a
meeting to take place. How silly."
Because the meeting wasn't
scheduled to start until late after-
noon, most owners planned to fly to
Milwaukee on Tuesday morning.
About a quarter made it, and spent
their day huddled around televi-
sions at the Pfister Hotel, watching
in horror as images from New York
and Washington flashed across the
screen.
Selig and his Milwaukee staff
joined them after their office,
housed in the city's tallest building,
was evacuated as a precaution.
"It's a change in our way of life,
that's what we have to accept," said
Vince Naimoli, controlling owner
of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. "So
everything else pales in compari-
son."
Selig couldn't stop thinking of
President Bush, a good friend and
former owner of the Texas Rangers.
"We always kid each other about
who has the most difficult job,"
Selig said. "I've got to worry about
games, he's got to worry about life
and death. That's a big, big differ-
ence."
Last week, Selig and his wife
were in New York and visited the
World Trade Center.
"I hadn't been there in awhile,"
Selig said. "Now to believe that
they don't exist anymore. It's
beyond human comprehension.
There is nothing in any of our back-
grounds to even begin to prepare
you for this."

N'western cancels
game against Navy

EVANSTON (AP) - Navy and
Northwestern agreed yesterday to can-
cel Saturday's game at Ryan Field in
the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in
New York and Washington, D.C.
Because there were no common
open dates to make the game up, it was
canceled and not postponed, school
spokesman Mike Wolfe said.
Northwestern's only open date is

ginia on tonight was postponed and
tentatively rescheduled for Dec. 1.
Also postponed was San Diego State at
No. 21 Ohio State.
Illinois' game with Louisville in
Champaign, Ill., and Michigan State's
game with Missouri in East Lansing,
Mich., will be played as scheduled.
The rest of the Saturday's schedule
includes Western Kentucky at Wiscon-

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