As the war went on, the games went on, too.
While the American sports establishment expressed its support for the U.S. war effort, the three professional leagues in season and a near-unanimous majority of colleges decided that sporting events would continue without interruption.In other parts of the world, however, the daily routine of athletes and games was interrupted because of the Persian Gulf War.
In Europe, the U.S. men's and women's ski teams headed home as a safety precaution. In Australia, Israeli tennis player Amos Mansdorf was eliminated from the Australian Open and immediately left for Tel Aviv.
In Africa, Algeria postponed soccer games and Tunisia canceled sporting events. And in the Middle East, a golf tournament and a squash championship in Dubai were put off.
Back at home, the NFL, NBA and NHL all said Thursday they would continue as normal. Only two of 88 college basketball games were postponed Wednesday and Thursday because of the war.
The NFL said conference championship games scheduled for Sunday and the Super Bowl on Jan. 27 would not be disturbed. The league was criticized in 1963 when it played games two days after the assassination of President Kennedy.
"The American people will not be paralyzed by the events in the Middle East or allow the fabric of daily life to be destroyed," NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said in a strongly worded statement. "We thus expect to play Sunday's conference championship games and the Super Bowl as scheduled."
The NHL and NBA, too, said that their schedules would not be disturbed. The NHL All-Star game is scheduled for Saturday in Chicago.
"The expressed policy of the United States in World War II was that professional sports, as well as all business and entertainment, carry on," NHL president John Ziegler said.
"We have been in touch with various officials in Washington and, on the basis of their reactions and advice, feel that the appropriate conduct for the NBA at this time is to continue to play all games as scheduled," the NBA said in a statement.
NCAA spokesman Jim Marchiony said individual schools and conferences would decide on their own whether to play. Both the Senior Bowl and the Hula Bowl said they would play on Saturday.
Only one of 63 Division I basketball games Thursday night - Coastal Carolina's game at North Carolina-Asheville - was postponed because of the war. The game between North Carolina and North Carolina State was the only one postponed on Wednesday night.
"That just reflects the kind of community the city of Asheville is and the closeness that UNC-Asheville has with the community," athletic director Tim Dillon said.
There were two minor disruptions reported at college games Thursday night. A dozen anti-war protesters delayed by five minutes the start of a nationally televised basketball game between Idaho and Montana at Missoula, Mont., by lying on the court. The near-capacity crowd responded with chants of "USA! USA!" and some threw potatoes at the demonstrators.
Iowa's game at Wisconsin went on despite several hundred anti-war protestors pounding on the door of the Wisconson Fieldhouse five minutes before the end of the first half.
Golf's PGA Tour said it would continue with increased security. And the International Tennis Federation said Davis Cup matches scheduled for Feb. 1-3 would go on, too. FIFA spokesman Guido Tognoni said before this morning's attack on Israel that international soccer games would continue, and that FIFA would reconsider only if fighting spread from Iraq to neighboring nations.
At the Australian Open, Mansdorf, a 25-year-old Israeli Army reservist, was to make the 6,000-mile journey back home after his second-round loss to Aaron Krickstein.
"There are more important things at the moment," he said today, just before missiles hit near his home in Tel Aviv. "I don't have a wife or a child, but two of my cousins are paratroopers."
The U.S. skiers were brought home as a security precaution. The World Cup tour has scheduled races in France and Switzerland this weekend.
Many players at home had their thoughts overseas. Larry Smith, a senior guard for Illinois, said he was distracted by concerns for his older brother, Derrick, who is among the troops in the Persian Gulf.
"It's hard for me to stay focused on basketball. I did a good job blocking that out of my mind tonight," Smith said after Illinois lost to Michigan State 71-68. "I will call my mother now and see how things are at home."