Like the rest of us, 9-11 changed a lot for me. Yet, like most of the rest of us, I have gone forward and lived my life. I fly places, I go to concerts and participate in 5K races and dog walks (no marathons for me, sad to say), and above all I go to sporting events and lots of them. I moved 1,400 miles to be 9 miles away from Heinz Field and CONSOL Energy Center. I didn’t do that to sit at home and watch the teams play on television. But, I have to confess, every time I pass through security at one of those venues, I think about it. Don’t you? You think about whether or not, despite everyone’s earnest attempts, if someone really wanted to sneak something in, it just wouldn’t be that hard. They’re smashing 65,000 people in a limited number of gates in a limited amount of time. They’ve got time to take a quick look down into the dark bowels of my purse and then they have to look at me and judge whether they think I’m a threat or not. Generally speaking the answer to that is no. I’ve been told as much actually. Those of us in the north spend the last half of the season dragging in blankets and wearing layers and layers of clothing to try and stay dry and warm for four hours plus of sitting still outside. Wand me all you want – I really doubt you’re going to pick up on every bit of contraband I could think to sneak in there. I’m not that naïve. I realize that the security that is there probably keeps us safe to a degree and I don’t resent having to go through it (and I’m actually always amazed at how friendly they are given the mass of people they have to deal with), but it’s always in the back of my mind that we’re one big target. I think about it a lot more when it’s my daughter with me. And the larger the stage (Monday Night Football, playoffs, and so on), the more it lingers in my thoughts. At least until kick off, and then I’m worrying about other things.
Honestly, it’s not just since 9-11 that I’ve thought about all of this. I’ve wondered about how vulnerable we are at large sporting events since reading Black Sunday about a lifetime ago. Well, now everyone is going to think about it the next time they’re out in a group. How many of us will be able to avoid thinking of the innocent 8-year old boy who lost his life simply because he wanted to see one of the most famous races in the world on a beautiful spring day in Boston? How many of us who are parents might think twice about taking our kids to sporting events as a result. And for those of us with older kids, how many of us will wait anxiously for a text or a call to tell us they made it through the event safely. Of course, if you’re like me, you do that already.
Well, since Monday, when I joined the rest of America in watching the scenes coming out of Boston with a heavy and somewhat angry heart, I’ve thought about all of that. Here’s what I’ve decided as a sports fan: whoever you are, you depraved individual or group of depraved individuals, you will not keep me away from my sporting events. I will continue to go. I will continue to be nice to the people who are trying to screen all of us through as best they can. I will love my team and hate their opponents loudly and proudly as long as I draw breath. Because if I don’t then you win. And I will not allow that.