The war's effect on sports

March 26, 2003, midnight | By Zach Mellman | 20 years, 8 months ago

Sports are an aspect of daily life used not only to excite and entertain, but also to distract us from the world's hardships, such as war. Unfortunately, the war with Iraq has caused just the opposite to occur.

The war's most dramatic impact occurred when baseball's scheduled season-opening series between the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners in Japan was cancelled. Commissioner Bud Selig's announced that the cancellation was based on safety issues and that it would give people peace of mind. The decision will cost the league ten million dollars.

Opposition to the war in the sports community has become very evident. For instance, Manhattanville College senior women's basketball player Toni Smith decided to turn away from the American flag during the singing of national anthem for the entire season.

By turning her back to the flag, mainly in disagreement with the war with Iraq, she has received national interest and even counter-protests. During a Manhattanville's game, a Vietnam veteran ran on the court and shoved a U.S. flag into Smith's face.

A large number of Canadian fans booed during the U.S. national anthem before the March 20 hockey game between the Montreal Canadians and the New York Islanders at Montreal's Bell Centre. These fans presumably opposed the American led war with Iraq, which began the day earlier without Canadian support.

In retaliation, Islander players said that they felt the boos were disrespectful, and that they gave the team a bit of an extra fire which led to their easy 6-3 win in this key game. Spectators at many American hockey games, especially Islander games, have booed the Canadian national anthem.

Closer to home, March 30's D.C. Marathon, which was revitalized last year after a 19-year hiatus, has been canceled because of security concerns and the war. Over 6,800 runners from 14 countries and all 50 states had signed up to the race.

Many professional athletes have also expressed strong feeling towards the war. Dallas Maverick's star Steve Nash (a Canadian) adamantly disapproves of the war. "I think it's really unfortunate in the year 2003 that we're still using violence as a means of conflict resolution," he said.

San Antonio Spurs star and former Naval Academy member, David Robinson, has negative feelings for people who oppose the war, such as Nash, who wore a "No War. Shoot for Peace" T-shirt to All-Star activities. "If they're not proud of [the war with Iraq], then they probably ought to think about being in another place," he said.

This war probably won't deplete professional team's rosters, as happened during World War II. A total of 1,100 major league baseball players and 638 professional football players saw service in World War II, including all time great baseball players including Ted Williams, Yogi Bera and Bob Feller. Nineteen pro football players and two pro baseball players were killed in WWII, but there almost certainly will not be pro athelete casualties in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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Zach Mellman. Zach Mellman was born on October 18, 1956 (he was held back once or twice). He has lived in Takoma Park, Maryland his entire life. He is currently a senior at Blair enrolled in honors classes. He is also a member of Blair's golf team, … More »

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