Sporting world rightfully turns focus to East Coast

To call last week a trying time for Americans would be an understatement.

In the wake of the horrific events which took place on the 11th of September in New York City and Washington, D.C., we have all been faced with the difficult task of returning to our everyday lives.

As a sports reporter, it meant back to devoting a good portion of my time to keeping up with the Minnesota football team.

But collegiate and professional sporting events throughout the country were cancelled or postponed through last weekend.

When the decision to play or not play was being made, many factors were taken into account. Was it safe to travel? Was it even possible to travel? Can a stadium packed with fans be kept safe? Could athletes focus on the task at hand with thoughts of thousands of innocent people dead in the back of their minds?

These questions, as well as many others, loomed overhead like the smoke from the demolished World Trade Center towers hung over New York City.

One question which many overlooked, however, was – do athletes need to play?

The way an entire nation came together in support of itself while mourning the loss of so many of its own was a phenomenon rarely seen.

Or was it?

Almost every summer evening somewhere in America there is a baseball game being played. Fans sit with their co-workers, family, or friends, watching, cheering for their heroes on the field. But more importantly, they sit among a sea of people, few of which they know.

The same thing happens at all sporting events, whether football games, basketball games or hockey games.

People from very different backgrounds and all walks of life sit with each other, all with a single purpose – to support their team.

Maybe that is why sports are so popular in America. With so many people of so many races, creeds, religions, social classes, and upbringings, we need something to bring us all together.

A common interest, a common goal – to see a team supported by thousands succeed.

But last week, the goal changed.

The team got bigger, the fan support was unprecedented. The contest – more important than any game ever played.

Last week, citizens of America came together like fans at a sporting event, supporting their country with more enthusiasm than any athletic team has ever received.

Not only did emergency workers rush to help people in New York City and Washington, D.C., normal citizens were seen on the news, aiding the rescue effort.

Citizens around the country donated blood and held vigils in support of victims.

Americans came together in a way to make us all proud. It is unfortunate such a profound loss brought us together, but now we have confirmed our belief that America is the greatest nation in the world.

We gather daily at our nation’s stadiums to enjoy the sense of togetherness a group of strangers can only get from sports.

With our nation now recovering, and planning its next moves, we are ready to come together as we always have, with something to root for, a common goal.

For the sake of the innocent people we lost, let’s cheer so they can hear us.

Anthony Maggio welcomes comments at [email protected]