Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Sports Page-The Return of the Saints

In one of today's post he put up before heading for the golf course (BTW....thanks for calling me, buddy!), the peripatetic blogger PM ( observes that the Saints return to the Superdome tomorrow night for the first time since Katrina. He wonders if this is a good thing.

Well, sure. It is a good thing.

After 9/11, the NFL suspended play. I seem to recall that Major League Baseball followed suit. Obviously, even the money driven suits that run the NFL and MLB were cognizant that playing games-and that's what they are-might be construed as insensitive to the memories of the victims of this unspeakable crime against innocent civilians. After a week or so, and after consultation with civic and governmental leaders, the decision was made to resume league play. And it was a good thing.

The psychiatrists call it redirection. It is when a therapist, through a skillful line of questions, causes a patient to focus on subjects that will lead to a more productive conversation. They do it with my mother a lot. When she obsesses about her medicine, the nurse at the retirement center will ask about her sons or talk about the weather. They redirect that conversation.

The return of the Jets and the Giants and the resumption of the MLB season did not "rebuild" or "save" New York. But it gave people something normal to talk about again. It redirected the conversation away from pain and sorrow. It helped restore morale. It was a good thing. And without a doubt it was an equally good thing when the curtain went up again at the Met and when Broadway lit the lights again.

Louisiana produces football and basketball players (male and female) by the bushel basket. They play good baseball down there. Louisiana turns out good golfers too. Which is only to be expected when you consider that fully 1/3 of the goddamn place is a water hazard. If you like to hunt and fish you can hardly pick a better place to do it. Sports in Louisiana are a big deal.

South Louisiana doesn't have Broadway. It has the French Quarter and the Mississippi River. And it has the New Orleans Saints, the LSU Tigers and the hapless Tulane Green Wave.

Evidently I have more time and money than sense. For last night I bought the broadcast of the Tulane-LSU game on pay per view live on Tigervision from Baton Rouge. The sound of the LSU announcers describing the action on the field as rendered by kids named RIC-card, DOOcet and PERRiloux was music to my ears. Tigervision is not exactly the BBC and occasionally one of the announcers would say something completely idiotic like, "the Tigers are going to go with the kicker with the hot hand." But even the guys on Tigervision, not usually known for their introspection, were moved to comment on how good it was to see Tulane's kids back in Baton Rouge and not only because their presence meant an easy "W" for the Tigers. It is just a good thing. And it made me happy to see it.

Let's not make too much of this. It will be a better thing when they get the levees and the pumps back up and running. It will be a better thing when the tens of billions of dollars supposedly in the pipeline for the Gulf Coast finally gets to the end users so that homes and businesses and infrastructure can be rebuilt. All of this is more important than a sporting event.

But, last night the guys in purple and gold whacked the guys in olive and blue as has been the case the last 70 years or so. Next week the Greenies limp back to the Dome for the first time since Katrina tore its roof off. And tomorrow night the Saints will be greeted by a sellout crowd on Monday Night Football. It may not seem like much in the great scope of things but it restores a sense of normalcy. It redirects the conversation, if only momentarily, for the people of a beleaguered region that have been much put upon.

You tell me that's not a good thing.

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