September 11, 2001: Nobody needs to tell you what happened this day. But it had an effect on sports for months to come. Immediately following the events of 9/11, virtually every scheduled sporting event was either postponed or cancelled entirely. The Ryder Cup was canceled altogether. Major League Baseball postponed five days’ worth of games and tacked them onto the end of the regular season. That resulted in the World Series being pushed into November for the first time. It was the first time that war or national security concerns had forced MLB games to be postponed since D-Day in 1944.
The most emotional resumption of play was, needless to say, in New York City. When the Yankees took the field again, they were on the road. They didn’t return to Yankee Stadium until September 25, and Roger Clemens was the NY starter. On the way to the stadium, he stopped by Engine Company 22, one of the firehouses that provided first responders to the attack, and was presented a jacket that he wore to the bullpen to warm up. Before the game, there was a 30-minute ceremony honoring the victims of the tragedy. FDNY caps became familiar and commonplace.
The NFL re-scheduled its Week 2 games until January 6-7, 2002—the residual effect was the first February Super Bowl. All NCAA Division I college football games were called off. The first game scheduled the following week was a Thursday night contest between Mississippi State and South Carolina on ESPN. There was a lot of discussion about whether it should be played. Ultimately, the White House got involved, and in conjunction with the SEC, it was decided that going on with the game would be good for the country.
Some games had to be cancelled altogether, but Boise State’s September 15 home game against Central Michigan did find its way back onto the schedule, as the Broncos and Chippewas both had an opening on Thanksgiving weekend. Junior running back Brock Forsey notched the first of his two career 200-yard games, rushing for 212 yards in a 26-10 Boise State victory.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)