To be honest, I have changed my thinking a little bit since writing this post a few months ago.
It was probably a little disingenuous of me to say that baseball SHOULD play and the NFL should NOT be allowed to play on September 11. I apologize. I was still in the midst of NFL hate due to the lockout. Because of that, I was unable to get across my main point: it’s not that sports are bad, but they are counter-productive to the goal of September 11…THIS YEAR.
I was going to let it go…until the NFL put out this ridiculous statement.
Please understand, I believe that sports definitely fill a purpose in life. I also realize how much of a healing presence they can provide during tough times. On the original September 11, one of the best things my school did was NOT cancel the soccer game for that Tuesday night. Those were the only two hours of normalcy in my life that day, and I still remember how poorly we played against a subpar team because we were all so distracted.
But we need to understand exactly HOW sports help us heal.
Do sports really make anything better? Do sports really make the pain go away? Do sports really solve life problems? Of course they don’t.
Sports help us to forget…for a couple of hours.
September 11th, 2011 should NOT be a day to forget.
Listen, I am not begging for September 11 to be a national holiday (although I think it should be…if Pearl Harbor has a day, so should the World Trade Center). I am not asking for games to be canceled on every single September 11. I am not even necessarily asking for all the games to be cancelled on THIS September 11.
But the LAST thing Americans need to be doing this Sunday is watching eleven consecutive hours of football – forgetting about the 2,977 lives lost for the entire afternoon and evening.
This year, the NFL has shown that they only have one goal: to make money…lots of it…as much as possible…consequences be damned. During this offseason we saw billionaires argue with millionaires for four months over how to split $9 billion. We saw how little they cared about the fans – the people giving them all this money – throughout the entire process.
We know what the NFL values.
Now they are trying to convince us that they really care about remembering 2,977 real heroes. And just how is the NFL going to remember them? By having ten minute presentations before every game.
Here are some direct quotes from the NFL’s statement this week.
“The schedule of games for that day was designed to appropriately commemorate 9/11 on a national level and what it represents to Americans.
Eight games will kick off at 1 p.m. ET, including the Baltimore Ravens hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are based approximately 80 miles from Shanksville, PA (CBS).”
So in order to APPROPRIATELY COMMEMORATE 9/11 (we should assume this means they are doing something different from the norm), the NFL has decided to play 8 games at 1:00, just like they do every week of every year.
But hey, at least they are allowing the Pittsburgh Steelers – a team who was touched more than most by the attack since they only live 80 miles from where the plane went down in Pennsylvania – to TRAVEL to play against their arch-rival.
By the way everybody, this game is on CBS. The NFL made sure we didn’t miss that little tidbit.
This is ridiculous self-promotion in its worst form.
The NFL doesn’t care about remembering Shanksville, PA. They DO care about starting off the season with one of the most exciting, hard-hitting slug-fests of the season, one that will definitely be a huge ratings bonanza. One hour into this game, nobody will remember the lockout.
And nobody will be remember 2,977 heroes either.
But it doesn’t stop there.
“The 4:15 p.m. ET window of four games includes FOX’s telecast of the Washington Redskins hosting the New York Giants.”
Awesome. Redskins vs. Giants. A yearly division rivalry game that much of the East Coast will tune into. And it’s on FOX. Thanks a lot for really going to great lengths to make the day special, NFL.
Again, we have the Giants – the team which arguably was impacted by 9-11 more than ANY OTHER TEAM – traveling to play a division rival. I remember Jason Sehorn pleading with the NFL not to play because “nobody’s thinking about football right now.” The Giants could see everything happen as it was happening on that fateful day. If anyone deserves a home game this September 11, it’s them.
“To conclude the day, the Dallas Cowboys will visit the New York Jets on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.”
Alright, now we might be getting somewhere. A New York team has a home game. This MIGHT be a good way to commemorate New York City. Or it might be a good way to have two of the five most popular teams in the country – with two of the biggest markets – play on NBC’s SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL. You can decide.
The NFL really planned their opening schedule around one thing: ratings.
They wanted to make absolutely sure that people would be watching their games from 1:00 to almost midnight. They did a great job.
Countless soldiers have died in the War on Terror while saying the phrase, “Never Forget 9-11.”
It seems that NFL and TV network decision-makers have gone to great lengths in order to make sure Americans “Never Stop Watching.”
It really wouldn’t have been hard to “Remember The Day.” What if you had every single game played at 1:00? The entire country could get their football fix, forget about the atrocities of the day for three hours, and then remember the day as they should – by watching the memorials that will be taking place around the country.
Or, what about having a double-header in New York? Why not play the Jets at 1:00, have a massive memorial service at 5:00, and then cap off the night with a Giants game at 7:30?
Wouldn’t BOTH of those options separate the day from every other NFL week more than the status quo?
Of course they would. But the NFL would be missing out on some valuable TV revenue. We can’t have that!
But wait, the NFL does want to give back. “It was announced on Tuesday [by] the National Football League and the NFL Players Association that it will contribute $1 million to three memorials and two charities related to the events of September 11, 2001.”
Nice gesture right? Until you read on. They aren’t giving $1 million to each memorial and charity…they are splitting that money between the five organizations.
And actually they are only contributing $750,000. We – the fans – will hopefully provide the rest.
The NFL will be holding an auction full of items used on September 11 of this year. “NFL Auction proceeds…are expected to total at least $250,000. Including the $750,000 in charitable donations to the national 9/11 memorials, total NFL-NFLPA donations will reach $1 million.
The NFL can’t even give money away without promoting their brand. It always comes with a catch – buy OUR stuff, promote our league, celebrate our players…and we will graciously give that money to charity.
Such a disappointment.
There were ways it could have been done right.
The NFL had an awesome chance to show us that they cared about other people.
Instead, they showed us – once again – what they really care about.