In times of grievances and hardships, many need to get their minds off of the current situation. People watch movies, television programs, concerts and sporting events not because of their importance to the well-being of society, but rather as a source of inspiration and escape from everyday life.
The nation is on the verge of moving on after hijacked planes on suicide missions destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon. Now that the initial shock of the occurrences has subsided into a cruel reality, people are slowly returning to their everyday lives.
And with everyday life comes people looking for sources of inspiration through various channels, including sports. After a five-day hiatus, Major League Baseball resumed on Monday. With a week of games postponed, the National Football League will restart on Sunday, and the NCAA will follow suit, allowing games to be played on Saturday.
Though we, as fans, watch these games as sources of inspiration, many of the players and coaches will have to dig deep to find motivation themselves. Different teams are all taking different measures merely so we fans can forget — for a few hours, at least — the terrible tragedies in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania.
Here is a look at how four teams are moving in the right direction after witnessing what is arguably the most tragic event in our lives.
Virginia Tech: “We talked about how serious it was and how significant it was to us,” head coach Frank Beamer said. “We all had a moment of silence and prayed for the victims of the families.”
Senior wide receiver Andre Davis was praying harder than the rest of his teammates. His father was in the Pentagon at the time of the plane crash. Luckily, Davis’ father was not harmed, but he did not know that right away.
“We talked him through it,” Beamer said. “We wanted him to think positively and not to worry about the worst.”
Now that the worst is hopefully over, Virginia Tech looks to move on this weekend against Rutgers, who has lost nine straight Big East contests and 16 of their last 17 conference games. Even if their minds are still on the victims of the attacks, the Hokies should come away with a win.
Nebraska: The feeling for Nebraska coach Frank Solich was eerily similar to the way he felt 38 years ago, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and the world stood in shock. There he was a day later, playing fullback for the Cornhuskers against archrival Oklahoma.
“I don’t think it was necessarily easy for anyone to move forward with that,” Solich said. “When you have things that happen recently to this country, or what happened to Kennedy, there are concern and different ways to go about. [The decision in 1963] was to go.”
Across the field, Oklahoma linebacker Carl McAdams knew his heart wasn’t in the right place during their 29-20 loss to Nebraska.
“We talked amongst ourselves and really didn’t want to play,” McAdams said.
Now in the 21st century the Cornhuskers will be among the first teams to play in Week Five, as they host Rice on Thursday night.
Emotion will undoubtedly be a factor.
Miami: It’s hard to scare a 6-foot-4, 240-pound linebacker. But on Sept. 11, Hurricane freshman Leon Williams was horrified. As a Brooklyn native, most of his friends and family work in New York City, including his mom, who worked at the World Trade Center.
After not being able to connect with her on several call attempts to the Hartford Insurance Company, where Leon’s mother, Veronica Simms, worked for the past seven years, the team began to pray for her safety.
Simms, who takes the subway to work, was running late for her job, which started at 8:30 a.m. The subway was delayed 30 minutes, and she finally reached the WTC, right after the first plane had crashed into the building.
Simms was in a mob of people running for their lives, and ended up running about seven miles. She finally made it home and called Leon to tell him that she was safe.
The attacks hit very close to home for the Hurricanes, who had only the game against Washington on their minds before that fateful Tuesday morning. Now, Miami has until Nov. 24 to worry about the Huskies, the only team to defeat Miami in 2000.
Williams and the rest of the ‘Canes have more time to reflect this weekend, as they approach their bye week, and finish their 19-day layoff against Pittsburgh on Sept. 27th.
“It is a difficult time for all teams,” coach Larry Coker said. “All of our teams have been affected.”
Washington : To add to the tragedy that the nation is in the midst of getting through, the University of Washington had another fateful occurrence last week. Sixteen tourists from the Seattle area, Washington fans travelling to Miami to watch the bout between the two heavyweights, died in a plane crash. The fans were on a side trip to see the Mayan ruins when their plane crashed in Yucatan, a state in eastern Mexican.
“All of us, we reflect on the events of last week and have to realize how fortunate we are,” coach Rick Neuheisel said. “All of that will affect the grand scheme of things.”
Neuhesiel and his team will pay tribute to the victims of the terrorist attacks and to the Washington fans both before and at halftime of their game this upcoming Saturday.
Though Neuheisel feels that everyone has been changed by these dramatic events, he knows how competitive everyone is in his profession.
“I think when we get back onto the field, we are going to fight to the nail,” Neuheisel said. “But at the same time, we are going to give the proper respect to others on the other sidelines.”
Washington has two seemingly easy games in their upcoming weeks against Idaho and California, respectively. Even if the Husky players are a little flat-footed, they will likely roll their way to a 3-0 record by Week Seven.
Games exist solely for our entertainment value. The irony is that those doing the entertaining — the players and coaches — have to entertain despite dealing with the tragedies our country has suffered.
But Americans should take pride in the games this weekend. The players will fight to the bone and work their tails off to win. This is simply a microcosm of the fight that America will give to overcome the tragedies of last week.