Officials in the NFL and other leagues wrestled with this need to honor a country's grief and the need to do business, the need to entertain. Surely problems of logistics and security entered into their decisions, but who cares? They did the right thing. "At a certain point," said NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, "playing our games can contribute to the healing process. Just not at this time."
In a short while, when the all clear is given, the stadiums will again be crowded and rollicking, and our nation will be back at play. It's hard to imagine otherwise. We've done it before. Maybe we'll sit there watching the San Diego Chicken or the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders or the New York Yankees and think that it all used to be more fun, that our old passion is only a quaint artifact of a more innocent time, when we didn't have to lock our doors or worry about our skyscrapers falling down. More likely we'll get right back into it, doing the wave, gorging on Dodger Dogs, studying that televised crawl for news of another BONDS HR, flaunting our ability to enjoy the silliest things. We're pretty resilient that way.
It's going to take a few more weeks, maybe months, to absorb all those stories, to clear the rubble, to find so many dead, to organize a military response, to relocate ourselves in a geography that is newly tilted by terrorism. They may have seemed strange and defeated, those stadiums empty and quiet last week, but they had to be, no way around it. America was busy. It couldn't come out to play.