Sports in war time: All systems are go

Mar 25, 2003 2:04 AM

The adjacent photo of American troops in Kuwait City playing the desert version of baseball prior to beating up Iraqis shows just how important sports are to this country’s psyche.

Life does go on, even in war, and it should. No question, the NCAA Tournament generates millions of dollars to Las Vegas sports books and this state’s income. Stopping the tourney would have played right into the enemy’s hands ”” wanting us to stop our everyday activities and live in constant fear.

Fortunately, it appears Shock and Awe should finish off Saddam and his forces within a week. So, the decision to allow the NCAA Tournament to continue without interruption was definitely the right one to make.

It’s not my place to let politics slip into sports, gambling or both. However, I stared at this picture of our Army soldiers creating a homemade glove and a ball made out of old socks and was inspired to write about it. Even during the gravest times, when lives are placed on the line to defend this nation’s well-being, it shows just how much sports means in the overall scope of survival.

On the other hand hearing kids compare feelings of winning and losing on a basketball court with the way our servicemen prepare for battle is simply ridiculous. Sorry Bob Knight, but basketball is not on the same level as war. It’s a game, not life and death. And, betting on sports isn’t life and death either, although many wiseguys too often risk enough money to place themselves in that type of position.

We need sports, in its enjoyment and excellence, to take our minds off a world growing more violent by the day. Pictures are worth more than 1,000 words, or even 358. Seeing our brave soldiers finding whatever time they have to think athletics should make us gamblers feel good and proud.

Sports has a definite place in our society’s fabric. Just so long as we keep things in perspective. All the best to our boys and let’s hope March Madness can be limited in the future to basketball arenas instead of desert floors.

Play ball.