Despite war, the games must go on

Daniel Pike

Ah, springtime.

The sun has finally returned, rested and energized, from its five-month vacation in Ecuador.

Throw open a window. Let the fresh breeze chase away the musty, lingering stink of your winter quarantine. Breathe in the glorious sweetness of an evaporating April shower.

Ponder a tree. Perched upon a branch, the robins chirp. The buds bud. Soon, shade will blanket the lush and green bluegrass — perfect for late afternoon frolicking, if late-afternoon frolicking is something you are wont to do.

But most exhilarating is spring’s delivery of the three events around which my life revolves: the NCAA Tournament, the Academy Awards ceremony and the Masters.

In the four weeks that encompass that trio, the cold, gray stillness of my February foulness is invaded by such unbridled glee that I begin to reference “American Beauty’s” Ricky Fitts.

Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can’t take it, and my heart is just going to cave in.

But then, just as I began to feel pretty good, President Bush deposited a steaming, Texas-sized pile of feces into my $3 bag of Dippin’ Dots.

In his Monday night address, Bush gave Saddam Hussein 48 hours to drag his Saddamned rear out of Iraq. Should Saddam reject the ultimatum — which, predictably, he did –?war could begin any time after 7 p.m. CST last night.

When the NCAA threatened to postpone the tournament in the event of war, I was bummed. When the NCAA announced that the tournament will likely go on as scheduled, I was glad.

And I don’t feel bad for it, and not because I’d rather shave Wolf Blitzer’s jowl with my incisors than wait a few extra days to cheer passionately for my new favorite team, the IUPUI Jaguars.

I was a sports editor on Sept. 11, 2001, and I favored the cancellation of sporting events the weekend following the attack.

Then the weekend came, and I realized I was wrong. I hadn’t realized how badly our wounded nation needed a distraction.

We needed to hear a crowd scream, but not in agony; to feel the thump of a marching band’s bass drum reverberating in our gut, but not the thrust of exploding airplanes; to inhale the smell of overpriced popcorn and soft pretzels, but not the stinging smoke of the wreckage at Ground Zero.

That’s why this country needs the NCAA Tournament, the Academy Awards and the Masters. We need to root for something, but not something that results in death for the losers.

I’m not yet convinced this war is necessary, but I know I’m indebted to those who will — philosophically, at least — defend my way of life.

I disagree with the argument that the games should stop out of respect for the fighting men and women. Instead, we should take full advantage of our freedoms.

The troops can’t be here to watch the games with us. Or listen to the robins. Or frolic in the shade.

But to show my appreciation for their sacrifices, I’m going to enjoy the spring for them.

This year, perhaps more than ever.

Daniel Pike is a junior print journalism major from Glasgow. The opinions expressed in this commentary represent only those of the writer and not of the Herald or Western Kentucky University.