Dave Reardon

Press Box

By Dave Reardon

Sunday, September 16, 2001

The real pros keep
on keeping on

I'VE got a confession to make. Friday night I went out and had a great time. Did it again last night.

Got together with some friends at our favorite watering hole, had a few drinks, sang some songs. Celebrated a birthday. Rocked the house. Would have danced if the aisles weren't so crowded.

We all seemed to cherish our fellowship more than ever before. "It's good to see you" never rang truer.

Now if I could just find some football games to watch today.

Maybe having a party isn't your way of dealing with grief (although it is in quite a few cultures). And maybe you are among the many who feel watching or playing sports after Tuesday's terrorist attacks is wrong.

Fine. But don't tell me or any of the others who want to get on with life (including the president of the United States) that we are disrespecting the dead. Don't tell us what the proper amount of mourning is.

Don't tell us we're not allowed to laugh and joke, play games or watch games.

Don't tell us we have to be scared, don't tell us we have to be vengeful and angry.

In addition to being world-class, finger-pointing moralizers, many Americans are naive. Maybe now they will realize that U.S. citizenship does not mean you spend your life merrily passing Go and collecting $200 while the rest of the world deals with poverty, corruption and terrorism.

You've got to fight for your right to party. Or at least be ready to, as others have before.

You don't need to read history books to know what I'm talking about. Just go watch that first 20 minutes of "Saving Private Ryan" again.

America is the heavyweight champion, nearly undefeated. The only way the challengers have a chance in hell is to hit below the belt. In the world of geopolitics, that means terrorism.

Evil has always been in our midst. Yes, Tuesday's events were horrific beyond definition. But ask a survivor of Auschwitz if she is surprised. Find a native of Cambodia -- if you can -- and ask him if he is shocked.

Yeah, I'm cynical.

But at least I'm not hypocritical, like so much of the sports leadership in this country.

Don't be fooled. Major college football didn't take the weekend off in deference to anyone who died. Major college football took the weekend off in deference to the NFL -- and the fact that many games were logistical nightmares.

WHY DID high school football go on in most parts of the country? Because it could. You don't need an airplane to play a high school football game.

But if anyone should have taken the weekend off, shouldn't it have been prep athletes (as they did here in Hawaii)? Aren't the youngsters the ones who need the time to learn from Tuesday's events and reflect?

Pro football players are, well, pros. Like firemen and nurses. Real pros do their job, regardless of conditions.

Why do high school players play, and pro players whine about it not feeling right?

I wish I'd been in Claremont, Calif., on Tuesday night. I'm not much of a water polo fan, but I would have gone to the Brigham Young-Hawaii match. The Seasiders played on.

And if Mark McGwire thinks that's asinine, so be it.

Dave Reardon, who covered sports in Hawaii from 1977 to 1998,
moved to the the Gainesville Sun, then returned to
the Star-Bulletin in Jan. 2000.
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