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Commentary: Sports provide hope, comfort, unity to nation in wake of terrorist attacks

I love sports, and I always have.

They have been there for me through the good and bad. No matter what, I could count on turning on ESPN or ABC and wasting hours.

Even at our lowest, they give us hope.

Sept. 11, 2001, was no exception.

The terrorist attacks halted the nation. Many were gripped with fear and uncertainty. The healing needed to start somewhere. For many, it was on the field.

I will never forget what I saw when play resumed. Whether it was on the collegiate or professional level, the stadiums and arenas brought about comfort for many.

Players greeted New York police officers, firemen and military personnel. Teams wore flags on uniforms; there were flyovers at stadiums and tears in the eyes of all.

It seemed almost like the coaches and athletes said to those affected, “You are doing all that you can; now let us do what we can.”

The New York Yankees went to the World Series, and many rooted for them. Even those of us who hate the Yankees wanted to see New York rebound in the best way. Even so, the Yankees lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The New England Patriots won the Super Bowl in January, but we are not going into all the conspiracy theories because that would take too long. We cannot forget the halftime show, with the names of those who died in the attacks cascading down a large banner while U2 performed. A flag that was at Ground Zero was even brought out for the national anthem.

Fast-forward to now.

With the NFL lockout drama, the possibility of a lockout in the NBA and the Ohio State scandal, sports fans think all is hopeless.

Then, the Sunday evening speech from President Barack Obama came.

Osama bin Laden is dead.

Suddenly, we forget about the arguing, the bickering between players and owners. Suddenly, we remember all that happened 10 years ago.

Sports were there for us then; they must be there for us now.

For those fighting, there is still a long, hard road ahead. The threat of terrorism is still there, and we still have friends and family members in harm’s way. Many people reading this right now can think of a loved one serving somewhere in the Middle East.

Now, sports must do it again.

They must bring us together, fix things and help us move on. Regardless of what the labor or contract arguments are, sports must uphold their end.

And this is not only about the leagues continuing to play. It is about the United Service Organization tours, where many who are deployed do not get to watch their favorite teams often, and hope to spend just a few minutes with their favorite coaches and players. It is about the flyovers, the national anthem and the notion that we are all taught when growing up: Never quit.

Everyone fights. No one quits. It’s happening on the fields of war, and it must continue to happen on the fields of play.

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