FEINSWOG: LSU, Louisiana looking for miracles

We're all hoping for miracles.

Saturday morning my friend Katie called and asked if I knew anyone at CNN.

 

Why, I wondered.

 

Because, she said, her family thought her great aunt from New Orleans was dead, a victim of Hurricane Katrina. But moments before the call, Katie and her family saw the woman being interviewed by CNN at the New Orleans airport.

 

By Saturday night, they had retrieved her and she was safe in Baton Rouge.

 

While the horror and tragedy seems to pervade our every moment, there are many great stories unfolding in the aftermath of the worst natural disaster this country has ever seen.

 

LSU hopes to be one of them by staging a football game in Tiger Stadium next Saturday night.

 

Talk about a miracle.

 

Calling off the season opener against North Texas was easy. There was no way to play a home football game last Saturday. LSU did the right thing and it did it right away, leaving no doubt that last week was not one in which to mix life and athletics in Louisiana.

 

But this Saturday? This is a tough call.

 

Arizona State is scheduled to visit Tiger Stadium for a kickoff that will be televised nationally by ESPN. It's not only an opportunity for LSU to create a three-hour diversion from the worst week of our lives, but a chance to showcase all that's good in Baton Rouge.

 

But it's not that simple.

 

For starters, right across the street from Tiger Stadium, the Pete Maravich Assembly Center is a triage unit for medical emergencies.

 

The Bernie Moore Track Stadium is being used as a helipad.

 

The Field House is set up as a special-needs hospital.

 

There's a good chance LSU's indoor football facility will be set up as a hospital.

 

And all the medical personnel? They might end up in a tent city by the natatorium, which just happens to be prime tailgating real estate.

 

FEMA has taken over the women's basketball team's dressing room in the PMAC.

 

Stop for a second and think about what a madhouse the campus and its surrounding areas are like when LSU plays a home football game. That's on a wide-open Saturday, one on which the school is not being used to save lives.

 

There were plenty of Tigers fans who wanted nothing more than for LSU to play that game last week against North Texas. But they understood the decision.

 

Now they await the powers that be, who have so much to consider.

 

Should LSU not play out of respect to the dead, injured and homeless?

 

Should LSU play because it's simply what we do in football season?

 

Should LSU not play because the broadcast will unavoidably intermingle the game with video of New Orleans and all that is bad there?

 

Or should LSU play the game because a national TV audience will see the good, the way the fans will rally behind their team and honor those affected by the storm?

 

The bottom line will be considered, too: LSU makes $3.25 million per home game. The school has a lot riding every time it takes the Tiger Stadium field.

 

And there's another more important bottom line: Since much of our Louisana National Guard is in Iraq, can we afford to have a football game in Baton Rouge that requires state police, local police, sheriff's deputies and medical personnel that need to be elsewhere?

 

What's more, LSU officials could decide to play the game on Monday or Tuesday and then find that things get worse on campus before the weekend.

 

The game can't be rescheduled. LSU does not want to give up a home game. But it may take a miracle for it to happen on campus next Saturday.

  

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Lee Feinswog is the author of "Tales From the LSU Sidelines" and host of the weekly Baton Rouge television show Sports Monday. Reach him at 225.926.3256 or lee@sportsbatonrouge.com.


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