Thursday, January 11, 2007

Be A Saint For A Day

We have all heard that sports echo life and that life revolves around sports. Oftentimes these sorts of sentiments make really nice movies about overcoming racism or a tragic plane crash or a revived fighter during the Depression or a bildungsroman story of growth and trials. We read the book or see the movie. Maybe we'll cry. Maybe we'll buy the DVD. But eventually feelings wear off. Sentiment can only go so far as to spurn any real action.

This weekend, the U.S. will again be reminded that we have a long way to go before re-establishing the livelihoods of so many people along the Gulf Coast. The Philadelphia Eagles will visit New Orleans in an NFC divisional clash that has very interesting football implications. However, the question is not whether the Eagles defense can shut down the McAllister/Bush running attack or whether Jeff Garcia can keep the Eagle miracle going. The real story is about how America reacts when we are again shown pictures of the devastated Lower Ninth Ward.

Will we try to paint over our feelings of sadness and guilt by calling it too corny? Will we downplay the emotional crowd by saying that it's just another playoff game and it's unfair to the Eagles to play up against New Orleans whom all the country is pulling for? Maybe so.

Ever since the New Orleans Saints beat the Carolina Panthers on the second Sunday after Hurricane Katrina, I was upset that I had the country rooting against my team. When the Saints clobbered the Falcons this past September, I felt sorry for Jim Mora and Michael Vick having to play against those emotions of recovery and redemption. The Falcons and the Panthers didn't cause Katrina. It wasn't fair.

However, Katrina wasn't fair either. Over the past year and a half there have been many told and untold stories of pain, suffering, and utter desperation as lives have been totally destroyed. As Americans, our inner demons have come to the forefront as arguments over environmentalism, race, and partisan politics have left subtle but transforming rifts within the American population. September 11 brought us together against a common enemy. Hurrican Katrina made us cling to what we have and made us eventually turn off the TV.

Americans have a strong penchant for moving on. We don't like to dwell on things very much and "Carpe Diem" is used less as a call for today-seizing and more for yesterday-forgetting. I challenge my readers to take a look at this article by Gene Wojciechowski and challenge yourself to see if football really does matter this weekend. It certainly matters for all those people who had their lives taken away. Maybe it's unfair for me to pull against the Eagles. But Katrina wasn't fair either. And everybody deserves a little hope sometimes.

**photo by Jacqueline Larma, AP**

No comments: