Why sports, why now!

By Brian Howard

For once in my life, my mind isn't focused on sports.

You see, the United States has under gone a major tragedy and yet, instead of there being some good from it, you still feel some disgust.

Sports has always been there.

It was there when John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated in on a cold November day in 1963. It was then, the decision to play was adopted in the NFL.

Much to the dismay, then-NFL commissioner Pete Rozell elected to play, only to admit before his death that he should have said NO to playing football when America was in a time of grief.

Then, fast forward through the 1960s and '70s to the day Ronald Regan was shot.

At the time of the assassination attempt, the NCAA was in the midst of the Final Four and sports was a focal point again of whether they should play those games or postpone. Regan, an avid sports fan, wanted the games to continue and so they did.

Perhaps the biggest spotlight of a tragedy came September 11, 2001.

No one and I mean NO ONE can forget what happened on that September day. But sports took a backseat to a tragedy that spoke volumes all across the United States.

We saw imagines of New York Giants and Jets players helping out; New York Mets and Yankees players doing whatever it took to make sure OUR country was safe.

Baseball and football were canceled for a week and when sports finally resumed, there was an American attitude in the air.

But unlike those examples, I cannot sit by and watch athletes ignore the devastation of New Orleans.

Don't get me wrong, there are some athletes and organizations that have donated money, but that doesn't help too much when an entire city is wiped out by a hurricane.

For me, it didn't hit me with the gas prices going up last Wednesday. It actually hit me the following day, when I saw two things - the way New Orleans was being treated like a third-world country and how the NBA and NFL were worry about sports instead of the tragedy.

The NBA is concerned about where the Hornets are going to play, while the NFL is wondering if the Superdome - the same building that housed thousands of people who couldn't evacuate New Orleans - will be ready this season for the Saints to play football.


Should we - as a country - be so concerned with sports that we forget about those that are suffering?

What about the fact that those involved in the tragedy lost not just their identity, but food, shelter, maybe a loved one. What about those kids that are going to miss school. Is their education lost?

America, for better and for worse, hasn't learned much since the 9/11 tragedy.

When the tragedy in New York happened, everybody lost a since of direction in their life. It was kind of like - where were you when JFK was assassinated or when Pearl Harbor was attacked?

Sports and the industry of sports knew exactly what to do almost four years ago and there is no reason, in a time of need in this country, that sports should be the first thought in our minds.

Sure we are in September, meaning the stretch run in baseball and the start of football - college and pro. But don't we owe it to the Land of the Free to put sports on the back burning for a week or two to make sure those in New Orleans are safe?

New Orleans wasn't safe last Thursday as the city turned into anarchy and corpses lay abandoned in street medians, while fights and fires broke out.

That is a glimpse of what tragedy has done in our GREAT Country. For once, I wish the sports world, high-priced athletes to owners, would consider taking a day off to mourn not just a wonderful city, but those who lost their lives in a national tragedy.

Brian Howard is a sports writer for the Daily and his column will run weekly on Wednesday's. He can be reached at bhoward@news-daily.com