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How sports helped the USA bounce back after September 11th

Sep 11, 2011, 5:21 PM EDT

Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies AP

It was like any other typical September day back in 2001, the sun was shining through most of the United States and in New York City; the weather was to be described as picturesque.

The world of sports had many interesting story-lines to start the day off, Michael Jordan was being rumored to return to the National Basketball Association as a player, the Seattle Mariners were chasing the most wins in the regular season in Major League Baseball History, and the Baltimore Ravens were looking to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

Then suddenly without warning, a plane hits the World Trade Center and it was the start to a day that most of us would never forget. By the end of it, the World Trade Center wasn’t there anymore and a plume of smoke seemed to engulf the entirety of New York City.

After everything had calmed down, professional, minor league and collegiate sports decided to put their games or tournaments on hold. It was a sign of solidarity that no one played for the next couple of days and it was the right decision for a nation still trying to comprehend what happened.

However, the great thing about the world of sports is that no matter what happens or occurs in the world, sports goes on. Major League Baseball was the first to play their games after the tragedy. In St Louis, legendary sports announcer Jack Buck read a poem entitled, “For America” and appeared to help push onward the feeling that getting back to normalcy was the most important part for the country. In every other Major League Stadium, shows of support for New York were prevalent and the nation appeared for a moment in time to be connected regardless of political, social, or minority backgrounds.

The first New York team to play in New York was the Mets as they hosted the Atlanta Braves. Many who attended the game have said that it was unlike any other baseball game they attended. A sea of red, white, and blue encompassed the stadium as fans were cheering for the country more than the team’s out on the field. The seventh inning stretch song was “New York, New York” sung by Liza Minnelli who put her heart and soul into it as the fans within Shea celebrated their city.

The game itself was a close affair as the Braves led in the eighth inning by the score of 2-1. With a runner on first, Mets catcher Mike Piazza stepped to the plate and with one swing of the bat created an image that most New Yorkers were proud to celebrate as his two-run shot gave the Mets the lead and the eventual win. Considering that most of the city was mourning the loss of so many lives just days before, that home run at least for the brief moment made them forget about the tragedy.

During the rest of that year, every professional and collegiate sports organization showed their support as the nation crept back to the way it was before the towers fell. Images of NFL players such as George Teague and Joe Andruzzi carrying flags during the second week of the NFL are still etched in many people’s minds today and the National Basketball Association/National Hockey League had moments of silence and patches to remember that the World Trade Center tragedy would never be forgotten for the rest of the year.

The one amazing thing about sports is that it can transport us for an hour/day/week from our normal everyday lives and give us entertainment that could last a lifetime. During that year, we appreciated the small things that made the world of sports great; Brett Favre throwing a touchdown pass, a Shaquille O’Neal dunk, a Derek Jeter home run. People who wouldn’t cheer for New York teams put their allegiance aside for that year and we honored athletes who focused more on helping the nation get better in this trying time. Sports weren’t just an escape for most that year; it was a way of coping with the grief, fear, and sadness that all of us felt.

While September 11, 2001 is a dark day in American history, let us remember the lives that were lost on that day and remember that sports were one of the things that helped us get back on our feet.

  1. 1historian - Sep 13, 2011 at 10:12 PM

    get over yourself