"Hopefully, we gave a bit of relief to some people who came tonight, and they can go home with a smile and give a little sunshine to a gloomy situation," said Eric Lindros, center for the New York Rangers
PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL, BASEBALL and HOCKEY ENCOURAGES THE COUNTRY TO MOURN
By K. Marie Hite
Professional sports really stepped up the plate after September 11th. Within 3 days every professional sport in the country cancelled its games for the weekend. Most of the owners said players and coaches needed time to heal. This monumental cancellation of so many scheduled games sent a message to Americans nationwide: "We need to take time to heal." If the NFL, NHL and NBL could take time off from work to regroup so could the rest of the country.
Some say the cancellations started in New York. The city is home to more than seven professional teams. Players like Curtis Martin of the Jets lost friends and family in the bombings.
"I know those guys were hit hard," said Bryan Cox a linebacker for the New England Patriots. "They were one of the first teams that came out and said, 'We're not playing."
The reasons for cancellations did not stop at the players or coaches. Most fans said they could not imagine attending a sporting event after the attacks. Most people were still glued to their TV soaking up information as fast as possible. There was no time for cheering.
"I spent the first week after September 11th in shock," said Tommy Belz, a sport fan. "There was no way I could watch a football game after such a tragic event."
A final reason for cancellations was the safety issue. The last thing anyone wanted was a repeat of September 11th. Most lawmakers and team owners thought a gathering of 50,000 or more people posed too much of a risk.
The only thing on TV all weekend was news about the attacks. On Monday morning the only office talk was about the attacks. The only thing on people's minds was the attacks.
Professional sports resumed on September 17th with a new message: "USA." Teams from coast to coast had American flags printed on their jerseys and hats. Miniature flags were handed out at gates. "God Bless America' replaced "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh inning stretch. Athletes rallied Americans nationwide with a pro-American message. In every stadium in America people were chanting: "USA, USA, USA." People were proud to be Americans thanks to the athletes who lead by example.
The PR departments of many teams planned extravagant pre-game and half time shows using firefighters and policemen as the new symbols of American heroism. Stars like Michael Bolton performed "America the Beautiful" to celebrate what America stands for.
New Yorkers got a pleasant surprise as NLB came to an end. The New York Yankees clinched the American League title. They went on to lose in the World Series but the extended season was a good morale builder for New Yorkers.