By Ernie Palladino
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Far too many people will have far too many worries than whether their favorite teams win over this weekend. Yet, bet that plenty will be watching or listening, be it by electrical outlet or battery power.
This is what sports does for us in situations like these. Whether the Giants beat the Steelers or Rex Ryan figures out just what’s wrong with his Jets over the bye week, whether the Knicks beat the Heat if they actually do play Friday, the very presence of sports will offer a needed respite from the real-life tragedy that was Hurricane Sandy.
For a few minutes, maybe a few hours, those with the flooded basements or dwellings torn to pieces by Sandy’s wind and water can think about something else. Nothing will change after that, of course. The problems involved in rebuilding the houses of Staten Island, the boardwalks of the Jersey Shore, and all the other devastation Sandy brought down upon us will still be there when the clocks hit 0:00.
And yet, we need that break. Just a few hours to step back from the backbreaking cleaning and clearing. A couple of minutes to be reassured that some good survived from a storm that hit our psyches like a George Foreman punch to the tip of the chin.
This is part of the reason the New York Road Runners are making every effort possible to get the New York City Marathon off on schedule Sunday. Aside from the logistical nightmare of a canceling an event involving more than 47,000 people, Mike Bloomberg’s battered city needs this. Events such as these tell us that life, indeed, goes on, and that life can still have its shining moments amid the horror.
We saw a similar reaction in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina swept the flood waters through New Orleans. That blast created all sorts of damage to the Superdome, home of the Saints, forcing them to play seven of their home games in San Antonio and Baton Rouge after having the first one moved to Giants Stadium.
Attendance wasn’t great at Tiger Stadium, the 92,000-seat home of LSU. At times, it was only a third filled. But the TV ratings remained, and Saints football became a welcome distraction in that ravaged area.
New York and New Jersey need that now. We have lost billions of dollars in property. Lives were taken.
To talk about sports at a time like this seems nonsensical. And certainly, the comings and goings of teams and players can never serve as a substitute for lives turned upside down through no human cause. Mother Nature can be beautiful. But it can also be cruel.
This week, we saw her at her worst. The scenes depicted over and over again on TV video and newspaper and website photos can never be unburned from our memories.
But sports can give us a few moments to take our minds off them.
It’s distraction. That’s all.
It’s just a little thing. But it helps keep us sane, even amid the madness and grief.
Should the marathon be run? Is it too soon or a welcome distraction? Be heard in the comments below…