There are people saying Sunday's Super Bowl game between the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills shouldn't be played. Some of them are sportswriters. Some of them are football players.
None of them, as far as I know, are G.I.s in Saudi Arabia.You'd think if anyone would want to protest them playing the biggest game of the year this Sunday it would be the soldiers in Saudi
Arabia, halfway around the world and possibly feeling out of it. But according to reports from the Persian Gulf, most of the troops are eagerly anticipating Super Sunday - which will be Super Monday over there - even if they aren't from Buffalo or New York City. And even if they aren't necessarily football fans.
Apparently, the soldiers are looking forward to going down to the rec hall, turning on the Armed Forces network telecast, seeing Al Michaels and Dan Dierdorf in the pregame booth, finding someone from Buffalo who will bet next week's check and give about 400 points, and sitting down with the realization that at least there is still sanity somewhere.
Playing football is one of those things America does.
There is a sports columnist in one of the local Tampa newspapers named Joe Henderson, who wrote, "A Super Bowl is always disorienting, but with everything that's going on halfway around the world, the foray into the technocratic minutiae of football is just strange, that's all - like maybe we ought to be doing something better with our time."
He isn't the only one here this week who is questioning the playing of the game.
In the same column, Henderson quoted Mark Bavaro, the New York Giants starting tight end. According to Henderson, Bavaro said, "I've got one eye on the Super Bowl and one on the Middle East - not to mention the Soviet Union. I'll be glad when this is all over so I can concentrate on world events without the distraction of frivolity."
As soon as Super Bowl XXV is history, then, Bavaro will retire to a private place and stew over the world situation; and Henderson, he'd like to do the same but since he isn't in a job that gives him springs off, he'll have to write about something even more frivolous than the Super Bowl, like whether Tampa will get a major league baseball franchise.
Whenever social issues run head-on into major sporting events there is often a knee-jerk reaction of wondering whether the games should go on.
When the hostages were in Iran as Super Bowl XV approached 10 years ago in New Orleans, there were suggestions that the game should be canceled. When President Ronald Reagan was shot and wounded the day of the NCAA basketball final in 1980 in Philadelphia, there were similar suggestions. When the earthquake hit San Francisco during the 1989 World Series, people said that if this wasn't the end of the world it at least ought to be the end of the World Series.
But what could be more important during a crisis than carrying on in the face of it as normally as possible? Than keeping the OPEN sign in the window? Wouldn't shutting down the Super Bowl be the same as closing down bowling alleys, or Odeon 7-plexes, or ski resorts, or cruises to the Carribean? Wouldn't it be a concession that life doesn't go on as scheduled? People don't stop going to work because a war's going on, do they? They shouldn't stop going to football games on their day's off, either. They should play this game. They should play the Pro Bowl next week and, even if the Persian Gulf isn't a haven for doves by then, they should start spring training here in Florida next month anyway.
They should do all these frivolous things because this is America, and that's what America does. Beyond that, they should do all these frivolous things because there is one man who would be very pleased if they didn't.
If there wasn't a Super Bowl this Sunday it would be one happy day in the bunker for Saddam Hussein. For that reason alone, the game should be played . . . and then maybe they should play it again.