Play Or Not To Play, That Was The Question
the terrorist attacks on September 11th, all three
active sports leagues took swift action, canceling their games.
Their actions, at first glance, were clearly the only thing to
At second glance, however, the leagues’ decisions were anything
but easy since they had no historic precedent: NFL Games, always
played on Sundays, were already in progress on Pearl Harbor Sunday
in 1941 and were not stopped. FDR himself encouraged Major League
Baseball to go on as scheduled three months later, in order to
“lift the national spirit in these troubled times.” And the then-Commissioner,
Pete Rozelle, is still reviled in some circles for his controversial
decision to go on with the regular NFL schedule just two days
after President Kennedy’s assassination.
This time, however, following an intense consultation between
NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Baseball Commissioner Bud
Selig – which included some NHL, MLS, and college sports leaders
as well on a nationwide conference call – all sports came to an
in the NFL have decided that our priorities for this weekend are
to pause, grieve, and reflect,” said Tagliabue.
Football resumed the following weekend (Sept.23), with the league
keeping its regular season schedule intact. The Super Bowl is
also going to go on at its previously appointed time and place,
on February 3rd in New Orleans.
The baseball schedule, resumed on Monday, Sept.17 without the
actual loss of any games.
I realize the suffering continues, I believe that in the spirit
of national recovery and the return to normalcy baseball, as a
social institution, can best be helpful by resuming play at the
most appropriate time. I believe that time is Monday,” said Selig.
MLS Soccer cancelled 10 late-season games that were never rescheduled.
“As we all mourn, I believe it’s appropriate to take some time
to acknowledge the nation’s loss and honor the victims and the
heroes,” said Commissioner Don Garber.
Sports fans have “voted “ for a pause as well: at Madison Square
Garden, the cascading sound of boos stopped the beginning of the
third period of a preseason NHL game so the fans could watch President
Bush’s speech on the crisis on the huge overhead TV monitor.
Players from all sports have been participating heavily in the
nation’s recovery efforts. MLB and its Players Association have
created a $ 10 million Disaster Relief Fund to aid victims of
the tragedy. The New York Giants went to Ground Zero over the
weekend following the tragedy to visit with and encourage rescue
workers. Other professional football players by the busloads went
into their local communities, holding memorial services, meeting
with fans, raking leaves, and planting trees in memory of the
is just something our players wanted to do,” said Steelers President
Dan Rooney. “They just wanted to do something, anything. We all
feel so helpless.” MLS, along with the Women’s Major Soccer League,
arranged for a quartet of Benefit Games with all proceeds going
to the victims.
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