When I first decided to write a blog around the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I thought I would attempt a bait-and-switch opening where it sounds like I'm going to write about terrorism, but instead write about something relevant to racing at the time such as Alex Zanardi losing his legs in a Champ Car race but still making a career comeback in touring cars and how handicapped-hand controls could affect racing, or how banning coolers at the 2001 MBNA Cal Ripken, Jr. 400 caused fans to suffer in attempted safety. As I was unsure of how to stretch either of these into 500 words I decided to write about the postponement of the 2001 New Hampshire 300 compared and contrasted with my own 9/11 experience, and a 133-word introductory paragraph to fill space.
I was 15 in September 2001, which is a very good age to witness wholesale devastation because a 15-year-old is old enough to be aware of the world around them, but not old enough to care about it full-time. Reflecting now, I notice the distinctly different behavioral patterns that emerged from my teachers. My math and science teachers tried to bury us (and themselves) in work as a distraction from unpleasant news; however, my history teacher ignored his planned lesion and allowed us to discuss the implications of what was unfolding amongst ourselves while giving us updated information through the power of VHS tape and the Internet (which I still thought was a passing fad).
It was around 6 o'clock that I grew weary of the bad news. To this day, I cannot watch a disaster unfold on a 24-hour news channel without needing to tune out when I realize there is no real information coming: just replays, speculation, rumor, and hearsay. To my dismay, the television could provide me with no actual alternatives as all cable channels (even The Weather Channel) preempted its programming for live news. Eventually I watched a rerun of "Wild Wild West" (itself a movie about a terrorist trying to take over the United States) on HBO. When the weekend came I had no school to focus on, nor did I have any football, baseball, or racing (as the aforementioned Zanardi affair happened relatively early in the day due to the time difference).
Upon retrospect, it is easy to see how canceling sporting events after a disaster (unless spectator travel is too dangerous) is clearly a bad idea. It is not because we have to watch sports or the terrorists win. We need to keep ourselves sane! My math and science teachers were onto something. There's nothing healthy about watching two solid weeks of disaster porn. And if I may be so bold as to quote The Office:
"If you're a family stuck on a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean, one parent might want to just keep rowing. But if the other parent wants to play a game, it's not because they're crazy. It's because they're doing it for the kids."
510 words and a week late is good enough.
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