We need to play

By Pat Coleman

Perhaps I'm not quite of the same generation as the current group of Division III football players. After all, I remember where I was when the space shuttle Challenger exploded, and today's 18- to 21-year-olds were in preschool, at best.

Tuesday's disaster and the aftermath will define their generation and mine, just as the Kennedy assassination and attack on Pearl Harbor did for those who came before us.

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This is no trivial matter; we have not felt such an attack within our borders in our lifetime, and most of the people who read this site can say the same. We should mourn the loss of so much innocent life, the loss of freedom, the loss of security. My 3½-year-old daughter will now face a world more unlike the one we grew up in than any of us could imagine.

With all that said, we need to play football this weekend.

We need to celebrate the United States of America and all it stands for.

When they play the national anthem on Saturday afternoon, sing your heart out.

When your players takes the field, cheer them on in a positive manner.

Because while major college football grapples with logistical issues that are beyond their control, the things that make Division III special are firmly in our favor.

No, we don't draw 100,000 fans to our games, or even 20,000. But this means our games are not potential targets.

We rarely get to see teams from outside our area. But that means that with very few exceptions this weekend, our teams do not fly to games and are not threatened by the disruption in air service.

So while we won't be able to make a grand statement by dropping a million dollars into a relief fund, we won't be endangering people in our celebration of true amateur competition.

Our statement will be small but powerful: We won't let those bastards beat us. The aim of terrorism is to force a society to change, and we should not give those responsible that satisfaction. Because while sport cannot heal the wounds that will be present forevermore, it can be a reminder that better days are ahead.

So I urge schools that are on the fence to join the vast majority and play this Saturday. Honor our dead with a flag patch, or a black armband on the sleeve of your uniforms, as readers have suggested. Give out U.S. flags at the games.

Let freedom ring.