When millions of Americans across the country woke up today, the option of watching a college football game should've been there.
When millions of Americans wake up tomorrow, they should have the option of watching an NFL game, and seeing Marshall Faulk run for a touchdown. Or watching a major league baseball game, and seeing Barry Bonds try and hit his 64th home run. Or watching the final round of the World Golf Championships-American Express Championships, and seeing Tiger Woods roll in a 10-foot birdie putt to win.
But there will be no sporting events to watch. Stadiums will be empty when they should be filled. Stadiums will be empty when they should be filled with adoring U.S. citizens waving American flags, displaying how proud they are to be an American, especially at a time like this, doing the things that Americans do.
Sports may seem insignificant at a time like this, when the nation is grieving for the victims from the worst tragedy in the history of the United States. But sports are a major part of American life, are they not?
NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue listened to pleas of players who said they were too shaken to take the field. MLB commissioner, Bud Selig, said baseball games will resume on Monday, bringing the total number of days to six that the nation will have been without America's pastime.
"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out sporting events are absolutely meaningless compared with what's going on with Washington and New York," Mark McGwire said.
But for McGwire and the rest of you professional athletes, playing sports this weekend was never about you and how many home runs you would've hit or how many touchdowns you would've scored.
The games would've offered an emotional escape for all of those who have grieved the past few days. These games could've replaced fear, implanted by terrorists, with joy, even if just for a couple of hours. And the games wouldn't have been about winning or losing or covering a point spread. They would've shown terrorists that we'll continue with our way of life, and that we aren't scared.
But professional athletes didn't want to get on planes or do their jobs this week, even though the rest of the country has tried following Tuesday's terrorist attacks. Are planes going to be safer next weekend?
These attacks on our country were done by people who are envious of us and what we're allowed to do. Now we aren't doing them. We aren't doing what Americans do. Now we are a scared nation.
So when we could be cheering for others on a field this weekend, we will be confined to our homes. Like prisoners in our own country, frightened to do what we normally do on days like today. We can't go to the bar to watch a game or gather with friends and barbecue and watch a game. We can, however, watch the news and read the newspapers and become increasingly scared to go outside, just like those people in countries like Afghanistan and Iran and Iraq.
Choices. If we don't have them, then what have we been doing for more than two hundred years, building a powerful nation that can be demolished by evil acts? These terrorist attacks have shaken us, and for good reason. But are we going to allow them to break us?
By playing these games, we would've shown Osama bin Laden that he hasn't won. In Afghanistan, where bin Laden is thought to be hiding, you can't fly a kite. People there don't have choice because they have no freedom.
Now we've allowed terrorists to take ours from us. Playing sports this weekend would've set a precedent for all other facets of American life that have also been suspended and thwarted. Have we allowed bin Laden and other terrorists to dictate how Americans live? Perhaps only temporarily, but the answer is yes.