HAMMOND: September 11, 2001 is a day that lives in infamy, not only for the people of our nation, but also for the countless professional athletes who had to play games in the wake of the attacks. A somber, but full crowd in Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets, stands and applauds a flyover and an American flag that seems to cover the outfield. This marks the first sporting event played in the city since the attacks of 9/11. On this night players from both sides come together as one, a nation of one.
On the other side of the city the New York Giants try to cope with this devastating tragedy, but also try to focus on their job, winning a football game. Giants’ wide receiver Amani Toomer told the Associated Press, “I remember watching the entire episode unfold from across the Hudson River”, while John Mara remembers, “I was climbing to the top of Giants Stadium just to see the smoke and collapsing buildings.” The Giants players and coaches also rushed to the frontlines off the field to do any and everything they could to lend a helping hand. Following the attacks the organization loaded onto a ferry headed for Ground Zero not for publicity but to get down to business and work. Workers on site would not allow the players to get their hands dirty moving debris, although there hands are used for another job, greetings. “We thought we were going there to move some rubble,” Toomer recalls. “But all we were needed for was to lift morale.” Even though this upset some players, most are happy they could help in anyway possible.
Not only were professional athletes hit hard by the events of 9/11, but the entire sports nation felt the shock. One individual learned of the attacks while watching ESPN. Andy Lewis recalls, “I was watching SportsCenter when they cut into coverage of the attacks.” He continued, ” This was my normal before school routine every morning, so to see the events unfold really shook me.”…”I was a sophomore at Southeastern and to see the patriotism displayed that day at class was great.” Andy remembers the New York Giants first home football game that followed the attacks, as a spectacle. “There was a debate on whether or not they should play, and the players felt a duty to the nation to play,” he recalls. The American flag covers the field as the national anthem is being played, everyone in attendance waves small flags and sings, Mr. Lewis recalls, “You did not root for this team or that team, you rooted for America.” Current freshman Dylan Tate said the first New York Mets baseball game caught his attention,”To see the American flag, the flyover and hear the national anthem is a heartwarming feeling.” “At that moment everything came into perspective,” he states. Dylan also acknowledges the effort put forth by his favorite athletes, “Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning, they all gave their time and even money to help victims and their families.” “To have my heroes display such patriotism and charity helped shape the person I am today.” Both gentlemen are excited to see the ceremonies and commemerative gestures displayed by athletes this upcoming weekend.
Sunday marks a milestone in the history of 9/11, the tenth anniversary. Once again our nation’s professional sports organizations are joining forces to pay homage to those lost and those still fighting. The New York Yankees will play the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday September 11, the exact day ten years ago the nation was attacked. Giant American flags will be thrown across outfields throughout baseball accompanied with slide shows and videos commemorating the occasion. Also involved will be three first responders from Ground Zero who will throw out the first pitches before game time. NFL Kickoff 2011, a show put on by NBC Sports will feature not only football game coverage but also a special pre game performance by Bon Jovi singing America the Beautiful. The professional organizations of our favorite teams will all join together to try and bring our nation closer in the same way it did in the days following September 11, 2001.