SBD/November 5, 2012/Sports in Society

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  • Giants, Knicks Play Weekend Games Despite Ongoing Sandy Cleanup

    NFL was assured that Giants game would not divert any resources from recovery effort

    The Steelers-Giants game took place yesterday despite “some public debate about the NFL and the Giants moving forward with this game, while relief and recovery efforts continue" in the N.Y. area in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, according to Jenny Vrentas of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell “spoke with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday, who assured him that holding the game as scheduled at MetLife Stadium would not divert needed resources.” Goodell said of the suggestion the game should be postponed, "I sure didn’t hear that here. And I didn’t hear it out in the parking lot. In fact exactly the opposite, is that, 'We needed this. We wanted to be here, we want to be able to get away from everywhere we’ve been dealing with all week for a little while’” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 11/5). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio wrote Christie on Friday “approved the decision” to proceed with the game, but his comments to SiriusXM's Chris Russo "contained enough nuance and equivocation to make us wonder whether Christie, if the decision were his, would have gone forward.” Christie said, “I don’t think there’s going to be much of anything diverted away from us by having the game there. The fact is that’s a completely privately owned piece of property now. ... This is just not a situation where I think there are going to be a lot of state resources diverted.” Christie added, “Now, if the East Rutherford area looked like Mantoloking? Whole different story. But you don’t have that kind of destruction up there. You do have people without power but they have their own power system up there. But the fact is I don’t think there is a lot being diverted. If the NFL feels comfortable playing under those circumstances, that’s the NFL’s call as long as they are not impeding me from being able to help the state back to recovery” (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 11/2).

    GUESS IT'S OK: In N.Y., Gary Myers wrote it is a “little easier to accept the Giants playing” than if the N.Y. Marathon had taken place, because the game is “in a stadium, not in the streets, and Sandy did not hit East Rutherford anything like the Jersey Shore or Staten Island or Breezy Point.” But it “still can be viewed as insensitive, although not unconscionable, to play the game, like it would have been to run the marathon.” If Goodell had “elected to move the game to Pittsburgh out of respect for the people of New York and New Jersey, it would have been a compassionate decision.” But after Goodell consulted with Christie, the decision was “made for the game to stay put” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/4). Fox’s Michael Strahan said, “The game is important because it is a distraction. It’s an opportunity for the fans to look and say I can think about something else outside of the tragedy that has occurred.” (“Fox NFL Sunday,” Fox, 11/4).

    STAYING OUT OF HARM'S WAY: CBS' James Brown noted the Steelers flew into N.Y. yesterday morning instead of flying in Saturday afternoon, as they typically do. They "stayed over at a hotel in Pittsburgh" Saturday night and "landed at Newark-Liberty International Airport around 10:20am" yesterday. CBS' Jason La Canfora noted the Steelers "had a couple of options to stay in that area," but they refused. La Canfora: "They said, 'No way. We’re not taking a single room away from anyone who could need it. We don’t want to inconvenience anyone. We’ll go day of the game'” ("The NFL Today," CBS, 11/4). Steelers Chair Emeritus Dan Rooney said, “We talked to a lot of people, including the state police, and they said it would be helpful if we didn’t stay in a hotel. That’s all we wanted to be, helpful. We don’t want to he held up like we did anything special. Hopefully this is the way we act.” In N.Y., Mark Cannizzaro writes the Steelers “acted with class off the field” in making the decision not to travel to N.Y. for their game until yesterday morning (N.Y. POST, 11/5). Steelers LB James Harrison said that players "realize none of this is any kind of real hardship compared to what the people around here have been dealing with" (“Sunday NFL Countdown,” ESPN, 11/4).

    DOLAN SPEAKS: CBSSPORTS.com’s Ken Berger reported Knicks Owner James Dolan “engaged in approximately a one-minute conversation with a handful of reporters” before the Heat-Knicks game on Friday. Dolan said, "It's a big game. It's good for New York. ... It will give people something to cheer about and take their mind off things for a couple of hours” (CBSSPORTS.com, 11/3). Dolan said that playing the game was important to begin "the healing process” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/3). In N.Y., Nate Taylor reported Dolan’s conversation was “mostly one-sided.” Dolan “didn’t take any questions from reporters about the Knicks.” The “last time Dolan answered questions about the Knicks was on March 12, 2007.” Meanwhile, during Friday’s pregame ceremony, Madison Square Garden had “a moment of silence for the victims of the storm” and it was “announced that the Madison Square Garden company would donate $500,000 for storm relief efforts, a decision that was powered by Dolan.” The MSG Network also will “have a telethon for the relief efforts” during the Mavericks-Knicks game on Friday (NYTIMES.com, 11/3). In N.Y., Marc Berman reported the game drew "a sell-out crowd of 19,033 with very few no-shows” (N.Y. POST, 11/3).

    NOT A FAN: Heat G Dwyane Wade on Thursday wrote on Twitter the team “shouldn’t B hre 2 play a basketball game when theirs so many families obviously still R affected by #Sandy.” In N.Y., Zach Schonbrun reported Wade “stood by his opinion on Friday.” Wade said, “I just felt there were bigger things to be concerned about than us being here to play a basketball game.” Schonbrun wrote there has “not been much backlash from New Yorkers about the Knicks game being played so soon.” Most opposition was "directed at Sunday’s New York City Marathon” (NYTIMES.com, 11/2). In Ft. Lauderdale, Ira Winderman noted Wade "stepped forward by announcing he would donate Friday's game check toward Sandy relief efforts.” Wade's donation “would be $156,000 before taxes” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/3). ESPN’s Mike Breen said, “There are certainly conflicted feelings here at the Garden and throughout this city. There’s a lot of excitement about the Knicks’ season, but there’s also many that say, ‘How could you even think about basketball when so many lives have been altered and in many cases changed forever.’” ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy said, “There are valid criticisms of whether they should or shouldn’t play, but since they’re here, your job is to play as hard and as smart and as well as you possibly can" (“NBA Countdown,” ESPN, 11/2). CBSSPORTS.com’s Berger wrote on a Friday night in midtown Manhattan there was “nothing wrong with taking three hours or so and playing a game.” Berger: “Playing the game, in front of what turned out to be a stunningly sold-out house, seemed to put things in their proper place for a while” (CBSSPORTS.com, 11/3).

    MET EFFORT: In N.Y., Kuntzman, Dejean & Siemaszko report the Mets are “already pitching in by providing staging areas and base camps at Citi Field and the old Shea Stadium parking lots for the various groups responding to the crises, including the city’s Office of Emergency Management, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Con Ed and the New York National Guard” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/5).

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