After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, sports teams suspended activities as the nation coped with its shock and grief.
It was a frightening situation, but the teams and their athletes decided that the best way for the nation to show its strength was to compete and cheer.
Who can forget the 2001 World Series, played in Yankee Stadium? The 97th edition of the Fall Classic stretched to seven games.
Other sports brought their athletes back to the field as well, including the National Football League.
New Orleans played a historic role as host of the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, 2002.
The game was postponed by a week, and the city juggled its convention schedule to accommodate America’s big game, including moving a massive auto dealers’ convention and even changing the dates of some Carnival parades.
Security at the Superdome was so intense it took an hour to get into the game.
This year, once again, athletes and teams are demonstrating their leadership by showing America how to resume play and revive an important component of our economy, while working to manage the risks of the coronavirus pandemic.
Baseball resumed play July 23, and with fits and starts, the teams are on their way to completing a shortened 60-game season.
Basketball came back a week later, with teams living and playing together in Orlando.
This weekend, the NFL begins its 101st season. The Saints will be playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Superdome with no fans in the stands.
College football teams began playing Labor Day weekend, and the Southeastern Conference begins its season later this month. That season has special resonance here in Louisiana, where the LSU Tigers will be defending their historic national championship. High school teams begin play next month.
There will be sacrifices to make all of this work. The stadiums will be empty, or attendance will be limited, so the Saints will lose the advantage of cheering fans in one of the NFL’s loudest venues. Athletes will have to limit their social lives to avoid bringing the virus into the clubhouse or onto the field. Fans may be asked not to tailgate.
The coronavirus will be with us for some time, and it’s up to us to sort through how to enjoy our lives and restart our economy while keeping ourselves and our neighbors safe.
We’ll be pulling for the Saints today, but we’re also hoping that the other 31 NFL teams stay healthy and stay strong, so the league can finish the season and the Saints can still win the Super Bowl.