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Putting Sports — And Sportswriting — In Perspective

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For the last several days, I have been trying to think of a way to frame 9-11 remembrances in a sports context.

But it does not really work.

It’s hard for me to accept that players getting on a field are in any way as brave as a soldier, a firefighter, or police officer.

There is no reason to believe sports are that important in the discussion of the 9-11 attacks. Yes, sports were canceled for a week afterwards, a decision that I think was the best for all involved.

When sports came back, it was put in proper perspective. It has been said sports, whether it be the New York Yankees in the World Series, or the Giants playing on Sunday, provided a chance for America to get back to normal after the horrible tragedy.

Five years later, I wonder if the perspective still exists.

I was not a sportswriter in 2001, so I never wrote an article before 9-11. When writing sports, I always try to avoid words like “battle,” “war” or “tragedy.” America is fighting two wars, and is losing brave men and women every day. I think that, for the most part, other sports writers and broadcasters do the same.

In that sense, September 11 changed sports. Most of us try to keep things in perspective.

But sometimes, that perspective is lost.

I do think sometimes we put too much stock in athletics. I wonder, when I see fans celebrating wildly in a stadium, why we are what we are.

Will we see mass celebrations if (or hopefully, when) Osama Bin Laden is captured?
I don’t know, and I don’t pose the question to be critical. When the terrorist is brought down, there probably shouldn’t be wild celebrations. It wouldn’t fit or be right in the face of what the man has wrought.

But in a world where we hear more about Terrell Owens then the war on some days, it does make me wonder.

What have I learned since September 11, 2001?

I have learned athletes (with the exception of the Tillman brothers and others who are serving or have served) are not heroes. Heroics are performed many places in this country. A gridiron and baseball diamond are no such places.

I have learned that what I do for a living is rather trivial. While I spend my days typing out clever ledes on my computer, some of my peers are just trying to stay safe while covering the violence in other parts of the world.

And I have learned I should be thankful to the troops, the firefighters, and the police officers that allow me to continue doing what I love. Without their sacrifices, my life would not be possible.

Thanks to them. We all owe you a lot.

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