Saturday's game against Southern Methodist University has been cancelled. Though reasonable people can disagree, it was the right thing to do.
The counter-argument is clear and has force. By canceling this game, as well as other athletic contests, aren't we fulfilling the goal of the terrorists? Almost by definition, terror has a paralyzing effect. It ends normal routines, and sends its victims behind closed doors. To show the terrorists that they failed, so the argument goes, we should go about business as usual. Business as usual means fall football games under blue skies against an opponent that plays fair.
It is a compelling argument. Certainly we, and by we I mean the United States of America, wish to send the signal to the perpetrators of these tragedies that they will not deter the citizens of this country from their usual routines.
Americans should not slacken the pace of their typical hustling steps along city sidewalks, in the halls of commerce, in our fields, or in the bustle of the seaports or airports. Not in response to these terrorists. It is a good, sensible argument. But there is a more compelling argument, and it is the one that prevailed.
Those behind these heinous acts did not burst these building into flames, send them crashing to the ground, produce the smoke and ruin, show us the grieving faces of the families of victims, or disturb our sleep with these and other nightmare images solely for the purpose of enjoying the temporary measures taken in recent days. They were seeking much more than that.
The Atlantic Coast Conference did not cancel these games out of fear that similar horrors would surface at any of the venues scheduled to host contests. They canceled these games out of respect for those that mourn, and that includes virtually every American citizen.
Would we be distracted from these endless images of suffering if we turned our attention to the fields of athletic endeavor? Perhaps, but do we really want or need to be distracted? Would not the rejoicing victors of these contests feel as if they were cheated of the elation that would rightfully be theirs under more normal conditions?
Would the spectators of these contests feel cheated of the ability to give all of their attention and focus to what was happening on the field? Those are sound reasons not to hold these games, but not the most compelling reason.
We need time to mourn. The losses the United States of America has sustained this week deserve to be acknowledged. Barbarism has many forms, but it is surely the mark of a barbarian nation to sustain such a horrific loss, and then turn so quickly to athletic contests that have entertainment as a major purpose.
Mourning is about acknowledgement. It is about the very human need to recognize our losses, to gather to and to share our sadness and our strength. Mourning is about healing.
As physically removed as most of us are from these scenes, emotionally we share fully in the terrible losses sustained in New York, Washington, and in a remote field near Pittsburgh. These acts of depravity were aimed at us just as much as they were aimed at the towers in Manhattan.
This is a national tragedy in every sense. Dispensing with a Saturday of football games will not give the perpetrators of these depravities the laurels that they sought.
Airports will reopen, stock traders will return to the floor, letters and packages will be sent and received, commerce will resume, and America will be back at work, their strides still hurried, purpose still in their eyes, and determination still in their faces.
And football Saturday will soon return. The pageantry, the feats of athletic prowess, the cheering crowds, and the school loyalties will be in evidence soon enough and these acts of terrorism will not end them.
A moratorium on football for the rest of the season would scarcely be enough to do homage to those who lost their lives and surely one weekend is not too much to sacrifi