9-11, Sports, and America. What they mean to me.

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Today is September 11, 2014,  and this day 13 years ago is one that will forever be forged into the minds of all Americans, especially those that were alive and remember that horrific and sad day. I was a sophomore in high school and I was sitting in Spanish class. I was drifting off into space, as I did during most Spanish classes that year, when a student came running through the halls screaming, “they bombed New York, we are at war!” That was the exact moment that everything changed. Everyone remembers the tragic details of that day, and the uneasy feeling that was pulsing throughout the country. I don’t want to relive that day, instead, I would rather talk about the lasting positive effects that day had on me. 

As you know, I write about sports. What you don’t know is that I do this in my free time. I am not paid for this job, nor do I think I will ever be paid for it. I write about sports because I am passionate about it. I think that 9-11 had a profound affect on my affinity toward sports. In the days after 9-11, this country was in a dark and uneasy place. We didn’t know if we were safe, we didn’t know if America would ever be the same. The one thing America did have was sports. I remember watching the first Yankees game that was played in New York just days after 9-11. There was much debate on how long America should dwell on the destruction. However, it was decided, and correctly I might add, to get back to business as usual as fast as possible. 

That first Yankees game was magical. The flag was waving high in the sky and everyone’s heart was filled with a sense of togetherness. I don’t even remember who the Yankees played. The only thing I remember is that I felt like everyone watching was on the same page. There was not white and black, rich or poor, Christian or non-Christian. There was only a sense of unity. On that day we were all just Americans. 

Americans needed something to take their minds off of the pain and fear. Baseball and football stadiums were packed with strangers, gathering together to take their minds off of the problems of the world. In the days after 9-11 sports were a release for people. While watching a baseball or football game there was a temporary pause on “reality.” There was a suspension of fear and uncertainty. Sports have always generated passionate fans. This was especially the case after 9-11. 

People watch sports because it is a break from the heartache of the real world. For 3-4 hours at a time, total strangers are united under the same banner. Here at the CST, we have a variety of writers. There are a few of us that know each other, and then there are writers like me. I have not personally met anyone that I write with. I am in a Facebook chat where I argue, plead and present my thoughts about sports with total strangers. The only reason I even found CST is because I am passionate about sports. We are a collection of people that are different ages and from different backgrounds, yet we are united under the banner of Cleveland sports. 

Just yesterday on my lunch break from my “real” job, I was arguing with our editor Zach Shafron about the Browns and Indians. I am a diehard Indians fan, and I would rather have a World Series than any other professional championship. Zach is a diehard Browns fan. Now, to paint a picture, the Browns and Indians have both been terrible the last 5 years (with the exception of the ’13 Indians) and we were actually arguing which is more likely to turn it around faster. Now, if this isn’t a Cleveland sports argument, then I don’t know what is. From the pits of sports despair, are two strangers, myself and Zach, arguing about hope and the future of our sports teams. I cherish every minute that I have being a sports fan, and especially a Cleveland fan. Everyone reading this understands the joy and pain of being a Cleveland sports fans. That is why I am writing and you are reading. We are united under the same banner. 

I will never forget 9-11 and the lasting effects that it had on this country. I will also always be a sports fan. 9-11 and sports molded together inside of my brain and they are two things I will never let go of. I am free to write and say what I want because I am an American. Don’t get me started on the PC direction we are heading, that is for another day. I am free to say, “I love the Browns and hate the Steelers.” I am free to say, “Go Bucks,” and “we don’t give a damn for the whole state of Michigan.”  However, in the end, we are all united under as one.  If the Steelers played a French football team, I would root for the Steelers, because at the end of the day we are all Americans. Since 9-11 a lot of people have died for my right to argue and write about sports. That is something that I, along with all of you, can never forget. United We Stand. 

Written by Rick Giavonette

Follow me on Twitter – @CST_RickG

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