The Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints played Thursday, but the NFL season began in earnest today, and I wish it had not. Last Sunday would have been more appropriate, as I am sure plenty of fans are using today’s games as therapeutic aids in dealing with the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and I disagree with their thinking, though I am angrier that the league chose the starting day.
I do not care that the teams had to regroup quickly after the end of the lockout. An even faster start would have suited me. Label me moronic, but I doubt the ability of athletics to heal nations. Contests display participants’ skills and rivet observers’ attention spans, but nobody should ever see sports as balms.
I have competed in and watched many games and matches, so I know the thrill of winning when defeat had seemed certain. I have sampled the joy of swapping smiles with satisfied followers of local teams and have enjoyed paying for great efforts.
What I have loathed is the treatment of athletes as saviors. After the attacks, I could not care less about sports. I respected every athlete on every level, but I saw no need to have their vocations receive as much acclaim as those of firefighters and police officers. I know, I know, everyone cannot be a civil servant, but I dislike that on such a sad anniversary, people are crowding around television sets to watch how the new kickoff rule will affect scoring, how the Eagles’ offensive line will hold up and how the Colts will survive without Peyton Manning.
Sports count as art forms to me, but the NFL should have yielded to the real arts. The season should have begun last week, leaving today to exist as a day minus shameless promotion of the league as a key figure in the country’s recovery. Only certain forms of creativity win my approval for being tragedy trumpers.
I loved poetry before I loved sports, so, in addition to calling me moronic, call me egotistical, as I have included a poem I wrote in honor of 9/11. It and its artistic brethren possess far more ability to heal than a Michael Vick scramble or touchdown.
Mourning the Morning
We became morning people to start life
when whoever would lug us off to school,
but the afternoons would silence that strife
and hand our cares over to laughter’s rule
Now we are mourning people, a cruel twist,
a turn designed to destroy our will,
but once our eyes have given off their mist,
today’s hopes will heat that stinging day’s chill.
Thousands will never live another day,
though millions will always preserve their name,
and not one life that hatred took away
will ever have its value cloaked in shame.
Death took them one morning in September,
but in mourning, they know we remember.