New York Post - 13.03.2020

(Ben Green) #1

New York Post, Friday, March 13, 2020


ook, we are a reasonable people, a ra-
tional nation. Despite occasional appear-
ances to the contrary, we know sport
isn’t life and death, that it is only vaguely real
life at all. We may care too much at times.
We may yell too much at times. Sometimes,
inexplicably, we paint our faces outlandish
team colors.
Sometimes we lose sleep
over a buzzer-beater, a
walk-off, a shootout.
Mostly, we know. We un-
derstand. When the towers
fell on Sept. 11, 2001, we
knew enough that sports
would have to go away for a
while (even if Michael Strahan and Kevin
Mawae had to stand up on behalf of New York
and remind the rest of the NFL first, both
men’s finest hours in Hall of Fame careers).
Pete Rozelle spent the last 33 years of his
life knowing, and understanding, how pro-

foundly he had erred in allowing the NFL to
play a full slate of games just two days after
John F. Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22,

  1. Rozelle, wanting to honor the late
    president, cited football as “his game” in ex-
    plaining that decision. Forever, he had to an-
    swer for that.
    “Some things,” he said in
    1988, “are simply beyond
    the games.”
    This, in the end, was be-
    yond the game — this vi-
    rus, COVID-19, which is
    suddenly a part of our ev-
    ery waking moment, which
    insinuates itself in every-
    thing we do. It is still mysterious enough
    that many of us aren’t quite certain just how
    serious it must be taken, or how much peril
    we are really in. But by now, we are quite
    certain of one thing:
    It merits our attention, undivided, unfiltered.

It takes precedence over the routines of our
lives now. The St. Patrick’s Day parade. Broad-
way shows. College semesters. Concerts.
And sports.
Thursday — March 12, 2020 — was the
day sports died, or at least the day they went
into temporary hibernation. It was a day
that had been brewing and percolating for
some time, the drip-drip-drip of a nation
trying to assemble a responsible course of
action. First, media contact was limited.
Then, fans were banned. Some collegiate
leagues canceled seasons.
But Thursday was when the lights went
off for good, when the men and women who
control sports in the United States finally
understood it was time to reach for the red
phone, the nuclear option.
In late morning, in arenas in Manhattan and
Brooklyn, Kansas City and Indianapolis and
Atlantic City and Greensboro, N.C., basket-
ball players had begun warming up for games

that would be played in front of TV cameras
and friends and family only. It was the last
gasp of a nation trying to have it both ways,
grasping for the normalcy sports carries
while still illustrating concern for the public
good. But it always felt like a half measure.
And in the end, it was. One by one the ath-
letes were called off the courts, the lights were
turned off, the doors were closed. At Madison
Square Garden, the Big East delivered sports
fans one last regrettable spasm of activity be-
fore pulling the plug on a St. John’s-Creighton
game at halftime. And that was the just the
first domino.
Soon enough, both Duke and Kansas
would announce they wouldn’t participate
in the NCAA Tournament, which finally
spurred the NCAA to embrace the inevita-
ble, canceling its signature event. In Jack-
sonville, Fla., it first was announced The
Players Championship would proceed,
without galleries starting Friday, but by





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