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Tough decisions had to be made

Joe Ellison column

In light of Tuesday’s tragedies on the East Coast, many sports activities around the country have been either postponed or canceled, as most of you already know. The most popular sport in America, professional football, decided yesterday morning that playing this weekend’s games would be inappropriate at this time.

I would have to believe that most normal people in our great nation would agree with what was a very difficult decision made by the National Football League. Considering that terrorist attacks directly affected New York City, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Pittsburgh, and the fact that the Giants, Redskins, Ravens and Steelers were all scheduled to host games this weekend, it only makes sense that the entire league should take a week off. Certainly travel arrangements have been turned upside down too, but just out of the respect to the families of the dead and missing, it doesn’t seem right that people should be cheering and congratulating each other so soon after the worst occurrence in United States history.

However, die-hard football fans across America are not what you would call a “normal” group of people. Those who answered polls on both ESPN’s Sportscenter and ESPN 2’s NFL 2Night voted overwhelmingly for the NFL games to go on as scheduled. Although I admire the fans’ loyalty to the sport they love, even they have to question how much all of the players’ hearts and minds would be on the games, and how the quality of the game would be adversely affected.

As of this writing, Major League Baseball was still contemplating whether or not to play this weekend’s games after already postponing contests from Tuesday til yesterday. With our great President George W. Bush being a former owner of the Texas Rangers, his aspirations at one time to be the commissioner of baseball, and his close relationship with current commissioner Bud Selig, we should all be confident that the correct decision will be made in the interest of baseball and the United States.

After the NFL made its decision, NASCAR decided to postpone this Sunday’s New Hampshire 300. At first, NASCAR just canceled qualifying and planned to determine the starting grid according to each driver’s position in the points standings. Since the death of Dale Earnhardt was the most tragic event in the history of NASCAR, and Tuesday’s events were the most tragic events in the country’s history, during the week, somewhere in the distance, I could hear NASCAR president Mike Helton saying, “We’re not going to react just for the sake of reacting.” Well, react NASCAR did, and correctly I might add.

A number of conferences in college football had planned on proceeding with games as scheduled, but just as I am writing this column and turn on the television noon Thursday, I notice that many members of the NCAA, too, have had a change of heart. So, tomorrow’s college schedule is rapidly diminishing by the moment, and at this rate, there won’t be any games played Saturday. So, check with the sports books or ESPN to get the latest news.

It seems that the only bettable sport this weekend could be horse racing. Even Wednesday, the day after the tragedy occurred, wagering was available for the Pomona County Fair at Fairplex Park. Other than having a bomb scare, I’ve been told that business went as usual at that venue. There must have been a real good reason why the action continued or even commenced on Wednesday, but I can’t imagine what it was.

If nothing else, at least we learned a couple of things about the state of American sports today. Other sports look to the NFL for leads when making major decisions, and terrorists can be very successful in causing dissension even among the most noteworthy sports officials in the United States.