The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday September 28th

To Play or Not to Play, Schools Must Decide

Professional golfers on the Ryder Cup team for both Europe and the United States want their event postponed, or cancelled because of the dangers of flying to England.

The NFL commissioner, Paul Tagliabue, is considering canceling Sunday's games for security reasons.

As of Wednesday, Major League Baseball had cancelled games through Thursday, with some officials predicting games would not start until Monday.

As I am writing this, ACC commissioner John Swofford, a former North Carolina Director of Athletics, is trying to reach the difficult decision on the status of this weekend's game.

I am glad I do not have to make Swofford's decision. Half-hearted debate has sprung up in the sports community about the wisdom of playing sports in the wake of the horrible tragedies visited upon New York City and Washington D.C., and, indeed, upon us all in America.

There are those who say games ought to continue so that the terrorists' attacks do not achieve their aim of destroying America's life. And on the other side, there are the people who cannot fathom something as trivial as sport playing in the face of this horror.

I can see both sides of the argument, but I think the most important question asked must be of the athletes' safety.

This weekend, teams from Georgia, New Hampshire, Pepperdine, Southern Methodist, West Virginia and Wisconsin are supposed to travel to Chapel Hill for contests against North Carolina's football, men's soccer and volleyball teams.

North Carolina's women's soccer team is supposed to travel to Houston for a tournament. The women are scheduled to play an exhibition game against the Mexican national team and then play Houston on Sunday.

If the airports open -- and that looks like a big if -- in time for all of nation's colleges and universities to get their athletic teams where they are supposed to be, then athletes must decide if they feel comfortable getting on the plane.

Women's soccer player Danielle Borgman told The News & Observer on Tuesday that "It's a little nerve-racking. It's one of those things where you have to have faith that everyone around you is doing their job. If everyone is afraid to get on a plane, the whole nation will stop.

"It could be hard, though. If we go, I'll go. But I'm not saying I won't be a little apprehensive about it."

Apprehension makes perfect sense.

The N.Y. Jets don't want to go to Oakland. Quarterback Vinny Testaverde told The Associated Press that he did not understand why his team was practicing. He and many of his teammates are afraid of making the long flight from the East to the West Coast.

"The last thing we want to do is get on a plane and go to California for a game when all four of those planes that were hijacked were going to California," he said. "My suggestion is if they want to play these games, each owner has to travel with his team to the game.

"Even if everything goes accordingly, by the time we get off the plane we will all be shot from the stress and nerves of not knowing. ... We'll be exhausted getting off that plane. I don't think anyone wants to play."

Florida coach Steve Spurrier had tears in his eyes when talking to reporters about the possibility of playing his schedule contest against Tennessee, which is one of the most competitive and exciting games in the SEC year in and year out.

Spurrier's tears were because of the tragedy -- one that reminded him of the day John F. Kennedy was shot and killed.

"We'll do what they tell us to do," Spurrier said about Saturday's game. "Football doesn't seem too important right now."

Rachel Carter can be reached at racarter@email.unc.edu.

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