A September Sports Weekend 2001

It has been eleven years now, that the world changed.  As I was sitting at my desk here at the Library, a co-worker came in and told me he had just heard on the radio that a plane had crashed into the one of the World Trade Center buildings.

We know now the entire story of 9/11.  Each one of us owns a personal story about where they were and what they did when they heard the news.   We have felt the pain of lives lost.  Participated in candle light vigils, and other memorials.

This was a time when we became united.  Ordinary people looked to help out in anyway we could.  Rightly so the arenas and fields became dark, an entire week of the NFL season was postponed, and sports became forgotten.  Those who make their living playing games tried to chip in any way they could.  Much of these efforts centered on New York City.  Instead of being host to the Atlanta Braves, Shea Stadium – home of the Mets- became a staging center for relief and rescue efforts.  Instead of clinching the American League pennant, the NY Yankees visited fire stations.

In the days following the attack it soon became apparent that sports and the games we watch were going to play a huge role in helping our nation get back to normal. Our national psyche needed a boost in morale.  10 days after 9/11 (Friday September 21st) Shea Stadium once again was used for play.  According to baseballreference.com, the Mets played the Braves.  The result of the game was a dramatic home run hit by Mike Piazza off New York native Steve Karsay.   In stadiums all over the nation it felt good to cheer again.  Across town the Yankees were on their way to another World Series.

What stuck out in my mind was the way sports plays a important role in our nations morale.  When things are tough people just need a place to come together to cheer and forget about the day to day life.  This was true then and will be true next time as well.

The events of 9/11 caused the NFL to suspend play the weekend of September 15 and 16th.  This had never been done before, not even when urged to do so following the death of John F. Kennedy.  So as luck would have it I happened to be at Arrowhead Stadium on September 23rd.  The Chiefs were to play host to the New York Giants.  Arriving at the stadium I knew this would be a once in a life time experience.  The usually partisan crowd welcomed the Giants with cheers that made me think they were the home team.   There was not an dry eye in the packed stadium as the National Anthem was played, and the words, “the home of the brave” were sung as loud as I have ever heard them.

During the game a fire fighters boot was passed throughout the stadium and nearly a quarter of a million dollars were donated by the people in attendance.  It didn’t matter the home team lost convincingly.  It was just a chance to do what you do on a Sunday afternoon in the fall.

In many ways sports are called, ‘the Toy Department in the store of life.” For the most part this is true.  But it can also be a place for participants and viewers where a person’s  true character  is revealed. The two games I mentioned were just snapshot of what happened in countless cities all over the nation that weekend eleven years ago. When things are tough people need a place to come together.  To cheer and boo and just feel normal. To spend a few hours just forgetting about our day to day cares. We came together in a totally non-partisan way.  We were all Americans with hopes and dreams and lovers of freedom .          So here’s to what brings us all together.

Don’t get me started talking about how badly we need to remember this fact

 

  • Matt Pettit

    Good post, Dave! I had Royals tickets on September 11, 2001 and I remember saying that morning, “I’m not going even if Major League Baseball still plays.” I don’t think it took long for the commissioner to announce the postponement of all MLB games. I don’t even recall who the Royals were playing that evening, just that the game was made up as a doubleheader later and our September 11 tickets were honored for admission to both games.