It's not about showing the terrorists they didn't win.
It is about showing ourselves we haven't quit.
Filling a baseball stadium on Saturday or a football stadium on Sunday doesn't exactly constitute standing up to the demons who attacked our country.
Thinking that a sports event can give even a moment's pause to any mass murderer is to trivialize those lives that were taken.
Targets were hit Tuesday. Thousands are dead. The sight of a filled football stadium in Tallahassee is not going to change that. No home run is that big.
The reason sports should resume this weekend is not about the terrorists.
It's about us.
It's about that strong handshake you offered your neighbor in the driveway last night. The knowing glance you gave the school crossing guard this morning. The hugs you will give your children for the next year.
It's about looking at one another and saying, "This is hell, but we're still here."
By this weekend, after spending four days wondering if that is really true, our nation may need to prove to itself that it is.
As always, there is no better place for it than in sports.
We can come together in end zone seats, outfield bleachers, on family room couches, in front of sports bar big screens.
We can weep at the anthem and cheer for the home team and, at least for three hours, remember where we are, and who we are.
While writing this Wednesday, I could still barely bear to think of sports. But by this weekend, filled with the smoke of the greatest horror of our lifetime, that could be different.
This weekend, I could be ready for a cleansing breath, and perhaps I will not be the only one.
It's not like the sports world hasn't already mourned, equaling the greatest such show of respect in modern sports history. Three days, 3,000 moments of silence. And this is just the beginning.
There will be flags on helmets and shoulder pads. There will be solemn pregame ceremonies. For the indefinite future, sports will use its awesome reach to ensure that nobody forgets Sept. 11.
But perhaps this weekend is a good time for sports to use that same reach to pull a nation together in taking its first steps past that day.
Beginning with its weekend games, baseball could substitute songs during the seventh-inning stretch. Instead of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame," "America The Beautiful.'
In football, after scoring touchdowns, instead of saluting himself, the player could somehow salute his country.
Some of this sounds corny, but sometimes corny is good. By this weekend, perhaps, anything that is not fear or dread or panic would be good.
There is a feeling that baseball believes this, but, so far, it is afraid to say it. Commissioner Bud Selig, having already postponed one midweek series per team, appears to want to begin again with Friday's weekend series openers, but is waiting for the NFL to take the lead.
It seems the NFL also believes in the power of resumption, but its players are openly fearing flights and large crowds, and their union leader Gene Upshaw wants to wait a week.
College football, meanwhile, can't make up its mind. The Big East and ACC aren't playing. The SEC is playing. The Pac-10 is only sort of playing.
The NCAA can ruin a kid for accepting a free meal, but cannot summon the strength to convince its members to act as one.
"There are two separate issues here," said Michael Josephson, president of the Marina Del Rey (Calif.)-based Josephson Institute of Ethics. "Has there been a respectful period of mourning? And what about security in the stadiums?"
The first issue has been settled. The second issue will never be settled.
The stadiums have been a security risk ever since there were stadiums. It is hoped this country will not suddenly forget that it has spent the last century sitting in them without fear or incident.
Our national air gridlock, of course, may render the entire issue moot. If players can't fly to this weekend's games, there of course can be no games.
Here's hoping there can. Here's hoping that through the dust and debris somebody will shout, "Play ball!" and somebody else will blow a whistle, and a nation will use its hands for something other than wiping its eyes.
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