Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sports Still Matter Teams Become Part of Cities, Which Makes Their Absence Painful

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sports Still Matter Teams Become Part of Cities, Which Makes Their Absence Painful

Article excerpt

No conference championship basketball games. No NCAA tournament selection show. No NBA games. No Penguins-Islanders game. No Players Championship. No anything, actually.

I thought I was prepared for no sports, but I was not. It was much worse than I imagined. You have heard it said many times that we really don't know how important something is in our lives until we don't have it? That is so true.

But I didn't need this long, boring, tedious Sunday to realize why sports matter so much to so many of us. I learned that lesson nearly two decades ago in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Sports helped us get through that unthinkable tragedy.

That point is unarguable.

I was at Yankee Stadium for Game 3 of the 2001 World Series. It was played a mere 14 miles from Ground Zero at a time when the rubble from the World Trade Center bombings still was smoldering. Nearly 3,000 loved ones had been lost in the four coordinated attacks on America. Nothing was going to bring them back. Hearts had been broken. Nerves were raw. The New York newspapers were predicting more terrorist attacks and more deaths.

That World Series game and those that followed helped New York get through that difficult time.

Sports helped a grieved nation to heal.

I don't remember a single detail about the Yankees' 2-1 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 3, but I remember every single thing about the scene. It was the most emotional night of my long journalistic career.

Surreal doesn't begin to describe it. Police and national guardsmen were everywhere. Snipers were on the roof tops of the stadium and surrounding buildings. We since have become used to walking through metal detectors and being scanned with a wand, but it was almost unbelievable to see Yankees owner George Steinbrenner waiting in line that night to take his turn.

"We've been spoiled in this country that we have been free to go here and there and do whatever we damn pleased," Yankees manager Joe Torre said before the game. "But now, I think we understand that life is a little bit different and may never be the same again. …

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