When a Game is More Than Just a Game

Last night I watched a documentary that I knew would be tough to watch but that I knew I could relate to. It’s an HBO documentary called Nine Innings to Ground Zero and it’s available on “HBO On Demand” for those of you in the US. I’m sure you can order it from Amazon or something if you wish from the rest of the world. It accurately documents the emotions of New York City during the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It then shows how the city and the people of New York and around the country were given a sign of hope and certainly a diversion from the tragedy that consumed us all for so many weeks and months.

For me, it was particularly apt in its descriptions because I was tremendously affected by the 9/11 tragedy and the 2001 baseball playoffs and the subsequent 2001 World Series helped to divert my attention and give me something fun and exciting to focus on. If you talk to anyone in New York during that time period, the Yankees being in the World Series and playing the most memorable World Series of all time was the beginning of a healing process. It was the first time since before the attacks that we had something to cheer about and look forward to. It was something everyone could get behind-even if you hated the Yankees which a lot of people do.

The result of the World Series in 2001 was insignificant as the Yankees ended up losing in the end of Game 7 because the series had given us something to take with us forever. I was fortunate to be at the middle games of that World Series at Yankee Stadium. In all my travels and sports events that I have attended, never has anything felt like Yankee Stadium during those games. It shook to its core.

I won’t get too into the specifics of the great late inning heroics of those games and even the fact that George Bush threw out the first pitch of Game 3 and was believe it or not cheered vociferously but the bottom line was that sports, in this case the World Series, can bring people together and put differences and tragedy behind them-at least for a little bit.

When North and South Korea wanted to show that they were in some type of talks for peace-how did they stage their goodwill toward each other? They had a friendly soccer (football) match between the two divided nations.

What was the major unifying factor for Iraqi’s in the past 4 years since the beginning of the second Gulf War? It was Iraq’s soccer (football) team advancing far in the 2006 Olympic Soccer tournament.

In order to show that England and Ireland had finally buried the hatchet-how did the Irish welcome the English just earlier this year? They played the most politically significant Rugby match in the history of Six Nations Rugby at Croke Park in Dublin, which was of course the site of the Bloody Sunday massacre in 1920, and did so without incident after decades of hate.

Sports brings people and nations together. It gives a lot of people something to look forward to. It gives people hope and something to cheer for. Those guys on the field don’t yell at you or whine at you and don’t talk back to you or even want anything from you. They simply play games that we all love very well and they entertain us and take our minds off of regular life. They do what we all wish we were doing and we sort of live vicariously through them in some ways. After the end of a hard day at work, you can always relax on the couch and catch the game.

Sports to me is significant in many ways. I love just about all sports and follow them relentlessly. That fall of 2001 will always remain special to me and I will never forget being at those games at Yankee Stadium and watching my favorite team perform some of the most heroic feats in World Series history. Although they ended up losing that series, they won the hearts of New York and helped a lot of people start the long healing process that may never end.

Sharing is caring!


  1. I saw that too, it was excellent. I don’t live in NY but it still made me feel it. That was a great Series-I was just 13 during the Series but I remember it being the best I’ve seen too.

  2. Declan Atherton says

    Great article Lee. I was at the match at Croke Park in February, it was intense and I like how you drew paraellels to your example.

  3. well said young man

  4. Hi Lee, I watched 9 Innings from Ground Zero last night based upon your post from yesterday and I agree it was a great documentary. I am a Mets fan but I was taken back to that time and it really was accurate and I remember actually cheering for the Yankees. I am also glad they managed to sneak the Piazza HR in there too because that was a great moment in the first game back after 9/11. Thanks for letting me know about it and keep up the great site.

  5. Saw this doc last night, great stuff, thanks for letting me know about it

Speak Your Mind