Location: The Streets Of A New World Order
Time to step
up to plate
Easy move: Bring Super Bowl to New Orleans
When it was Sept. 11 four years ago in New York City,
when it was airplanes piloted by madmen flying into buildings
and killing 3,000 of our people and not just one of the
greatest cities but the greatest city of all wounded this way,
there were all these discussions on our side of things, the
sports side, about where sports fit into the whole grand
scheme of things.
We stopped the games and talked
about all that until the games started again.
time it is New Orleans. It is not a man-made calamity, it is
one made by God. We see pictures from there, on a constant
loop, of the fault line of real American life. We see the true
division between rich and poor laid bare. We see how slow
George Bush and his government, so many of the high-ranking
fools he has working for him, are to respond to one of our
cities that looks as if it has been hit by a tidal wave, at a
time when a single day might have meant everything to the
suffering, or even the dead.
We are told Bush will fix
things, as he finally shows up down there to act like the
photo-op president of the poor. What has he ever fixed? He
could call in the Louisiana National Guard, except that too
many of them are helping him liberate Iraq.
the Vice President in the aftermath of an epic natural
disaster like this? On vacation. Where is the Secretary of
State? At the theater, before being talked out of a day at the
United States Tennis Open. There are so many people from this
administration who belong in the lower weight classes you
don't know where to start.
When a tsunami hit on the
other side of the world, this was an administration whose
first response was to offer to write a check for $15 million.
The lie now, from the yahoos in the Bush media, is that it was
$350 million from the start. It wasn't. For the past four
years, the first instinct of this President, almost always, is
wrong, the way he was wrong about Cindy Sheehan. Now you look
back on these four years since Sept. 11 and it is more than
fair to ask yourself what these people have ever gotten right?
There was no warning for the tsunami. What excuse is
there for our government not to be more prepared for Katrina,
for a storm being pitched for days as the Gulf Coast storm of
So where does sports fit in this time,
when a different type of attack comes out of the sky and
through the levees of New Orleans? There is no baseball season
to interrupt in New Orleans. There is Saints football and
Hornets basketball. There is college football. But there is no
debate, no hand-wringing about whether our games are more or
less important at a time like this, even as we saw in October
and November of 2001 how important the baseball playoffs and
that World Series between the Yankees and Diamondbacks were to
What can sports do? Start here: The NFL
commissioner, Paul Tagliabue, should get his owners together
and get them in line and say that the 2010 Super Bowl - the
one that was given to New York as part of Tagliabue's lobbying
to help get the Jets their new football palace on the West
Side - is being awarded to New Orleans.
It is the city
that has hosted nine Super Bowls, more than any other American
city. Give it another. Now. This is a way for Tagliabue and
the NFL to send more than money to New Orleans. It is a way to
send hope, to make a powerful statement about the league's
belief that New Orleans will rebuild itself.
isn't that huckster claim that New York needed the 2012 Summer
Games as a way to show that it had come all the way back from
terrorism, as if an event 11 years after the fact could do
that. This is something much more immediate for New Orleans.
Say that after a week when none of us could believe the
horrific pictures from inside the Superdome that you, the NFL
commissioner, and you, the NFL owners, believe that the place
will once again be worthy of hosting the biggest football game
and the biggest American sports event 4 1/2 years from now.
You want to have sports do something? Do that.
You want to use the Super Bowl as more than a lobbying
tool for the Jets? Give the 2010 game to New Orleans. Use the
economic impact of the game there.
Saints owner Tom
Benson, not one of the brightest bulbs in the chandelier,
complains before Hurricane Katrina that the Saints can't get
on the NFL's radar for the 2010 Super Bowl. Benson knows why:
The Saints haven't secured a long-term lease agreement with
Louisiana. There is always the idea around, stronger now than
ever, that Benson might move the Saints.
So Benson has
to announce that the Saints aren't going anywhere. The
negotiations about a new lease were supposed to be going on
right now between Benson and Gov. Kathleen Blanco. When they
resume, whenever they resume, a deal must be struck
immediately. If Benson uses this tragedy as some permanent way
out of town, to Los Angeles or someplace else, he is a bum.
Both Tagliabue and Benson have to say that the Saints
aren't going to Los Angeles this season, or San Antonio, or
Houston, that if everything can be worked out quickly at LSU,
that the Saints' home games will be played there.
course these are only games. Don't take them away from the
state at a time like this if there is any way to keep them
close to New Orleans.
Sports can't clear the streets
or stop the rising death toll or the violence of New Orleans,
or the anger there about the bunglers in Washington. Sports
can't go back and make the levees hold any more than any
politician could have. Sports can't give a brain to a career
hack like .Michael Brown, Bush's head of the Federal Emergency
Management Agency, who wants to blame the number of dead in
New Orleans, whatever it will eventually be, on people who
didn't get out of town fast enough. Forget about the people of
New Orleans. Brown is the one in over his head here.
All sports can give is hope, a little at a time. So
keep the Saints close to home this season. Give New Orleans
its 10th Super Bowl in 2010. It seems, in so many ways, like a
drop in the bucket. Sometimes sports can be more than that.
Maybe this time it can be more decisive about New
Orleans than the president.
Originally published on
September 4, 2005