September 6, 2001

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

It's difficult to want to talk about spending time outdoors, sports pursuits, or for that matter having fun at all in light of the recent tragedy that has befallen our nation. However, we must move forward. Professional sports began to come back to life on Monday as Major League Baseball played games after nearly a week of cancellations in respect for the national tragedy. The NFL and all other major sports operations will return to normal scheduled events this week.

On the personal front, I am almost a bit ashamed to admit that I played in a golf tournament just days after the terrorist attacks on the East Coast. It wasn't like we all got together the days following the tragedy and decided to play golf, as this was a planned fundraiser for the course that is annually scheduled for this time of the year. Still as I gathered my equipment and headed for the course I couldn't help but notice I didn't have that typical hop in my step. Usually I am jumping for joy and as excited as I can be about, not only actually getting to play golf for the third or fourth time all year, but the fact that I should be at work but am playing golf instead, which honestly is the highlight of the day.

I was not alone, as there seemed to be a cloud over the whole day. The normal air of excitement and fun was missing. There were no jokes being told, no discussions about whose golf game is the best. Instead the golfers were spread out in small groups talking about the tragic news of the previous days. For the first time I can remember, a golf tournament started with a prayer as the players all joined in a moment of silence for those lost in the terrorist attacks.

As the day moved forward, the golf game did help many of us forget about the stress and the horror of the previous days and let us escape to another world where it mattered more about the break on the putt or the proper club choice to reach the green.

It is this same reason why it is so important for baseball, football and all other sports to return to play as soon as possible. We must move forward. For many of us, the sporting world or the outdoor arena is our escape from the stress of everyday life. I can't imagine a greater need for escape from the rigors of everyday than has been created by the actions of the past 10 days.

Like I said, I felt a little guilty about "playing" while others were digging in the rubble or performing some other duty to those affected by the tragedy. But things have a way of working out. For the first time in my golfing career, I was on a team that actually finished first in a golf tournament. It took five playoff holes but we finally won out. My share of the top prize was $100. I didn't feel so guilty about playing golf after those winnings were donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

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