NCAA Made Correct Decision To Cancel Saturday’s Games

Scott Schuster

In turbulent times like the present, sports are a mere footnote to the harsh re­ality in which we live. The NFL and MLB organizations apparently feel the same way as was evident by their decisions to postpone this week’s schedule of games. But what about the NCAA? At what point does the sports arena, in this case college football, reconvene its daily routines and modes? The NCAA has not rendered an absolute decision, leaving that judgment to the individual conferences and showing that collegiate sports lack a united voice, which has created a shameful decision.

Mixed emotions, a natural product of the unfortunate tragedies in New York and Washington, have cased the NCAA to be inconclusive. Should college football postpone its schedule out of respect for the thousands of mourning people who experienced losses in the World Trade Center and Pentagon bombings? It cer­tainly seems to be the case. If MLB can cancel three, possibly more, days worth of games, as well as the NFL, which followed suit with a decision early Thursday morn­ing canceling its Week Two lineup, then why is the NCAA not doing the same?

All three are separate organizations, but all are servicing the sports community, which for the most part has decided to leave sports on the back burner. Sports are meant for entertainment purposes, and as Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis stated to the Pittsburgh Post-Ga­zette, “I don’t know if the country wants to be entertained right now.”

There are times in which games are ap­propriate, and yes, it is true that sports al­low us to forget our troubles, but now is not a time to forget, but rather a time to remember. How can an athlete conscious­ly compete in a game knowing that thou­sands of people are trapped beneath tons of ruble, or how can a fan enjoy a game knowing the same? People affected inti­mately, as well as those unaffected by per­sonal losses, have been emotionally torn the entire week, and this is not the time for amusement or personal indulgence.

Aside from what would seem to be the moral implications of the postponements, the NCAA should consider several factors and consequently should reconsider its previous decision and postpone the entire week’s events. First, there is the issue of travel, which for most games, conference or non-conference, requires the use of planes. At this moment in time, the issue of airport security is a major source of discomfort, and it is doubtful that many people in this country are fully confident in the idea of flying. Why should college athletes, who are in actu­ality just kids, be any less apprehensive? Their insecurities need to be considered as well. It is easy to forget in the high-profile world of the Division I College Football that the necessary element is a group of twenty-year-olds. Maybe someone should ask their opinion.

For those games in which visiting teams will travel by bus, the air travel argument annot be made. However, the issue of readiness can. The incidents of this past week have affected people in many different ways, making some play­ers or teams sharper than others. Not to make wins or losses the central issue here, but certain teams should not be forced to play based on convenience of travel. I would assume that many who are cur­rently scheduled to play this Saturday are mentally and emotionally unprepared, creating a significant disadvantage for certain teams. Furthermore, the govern­ing bodies of both the NCAA and the conferences are not the onces who will be playing or working on Saturday. Aside from the athletes, there are the television crews to consider, the stadium officials and the referees, all of whom may not be able to fully perform their duties. Those in charge of allowing certain games to continue as scheduled are acting in a shamefully selfish manner.

No one more than I was looking for­ward to this weekend, whose schedule originally included Washington versus Miami, a rematch of last year’s most in­fluential BCS decider, Georgia Tech ver­sus Florida State, the Seminoles largest conference test in years, as well as Notre Dame versus Purdue, an in-state rivalry between two Top 25 teams.

Yet all are trivial in the scope of life. What does remain for Saturday is the pe­rennial classic between SEC powers Ten­nessee and Florida. There is not a single college football fan that hwould not like to see the Vols and Gators do battle, but just not this weekend. While it is strange seeing this game at the beginning of the season, the SEC, along with the rest of its games, should be postponed to a later date.

Sports are great when they can be. This weekend is not one of those times. Starting fresh next week might serve as a nice relief, but for now, the only relief needed are for the people suffering in New York, Washington and the rest of the country. College football is not go­ing away, just let it take off for the week and be pushed aside as it and the rest of sports should.

For original article, see September 21, 2001 issue in the Marron-News Archive