By John L. Pitts/NEMS Daily Journal
On Saturday, there were a record 83,401 fans at Auburn’s spring game, 78,000 at Alabama, 61,076 at Tennessee and a record 51,088 at Arkansas.
That same day, the second-largest college baseball crowd ever (14,562) packed Mississippi State’s Dudy Noble Field.
I did a little quick math, and about 400,000 people were in SEC stadiums on Saturday.
I’m not suggesting that the people who flocked to those games were doing so as a form of protest.
But after the stunning events of last week, which saw two bombs explode near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, it’s worth pointing out that fear didn’t keep those fans home, either.
That’s how we are, I think.
After the Centennial Park bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics – I was working next door the night it happened – average people were keen to return to that site just days later as a way of saying “We’re not afraid.”
After 9-11, we all got on with our lives. I wondered that day if I would ever fly again. I have.
We adjust and move on – a little more wary, perhaps.
I was a manager in the Main Press Center in Atlanta, and a couple of days after the park bombing I noticed a small box in our public lobby. Nobody knew where it came from and it made me a little nervous.
OK, a lot nervous.
So the bomb squad guy came – in full “Hurt Locker” protection – and let his bomb-sniffing dog have a sniff. The dog yawned.
After a few tense minutes, he opened the box, and it was full of papers.
I apologized for wasting his time but he waved me off. “We prefer calls like this one,” he said.
We asked in a poll on our website over the weekend whether the Boston bombings would “make you nervous about attending future sporting events.” An overwhelming 78 percent said “no.”
The dictionary definition of terrorism is “systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population.”
To the extent that people went on about their business last weekend – attending a spring football game, packing Dudy Noble or just going to the grocery – then this attempt at creating fear, while tragic, was a failure.
John L. Pitts (firstname.lastname@example.org) has been sports editor at the Daily Journal since 2006. His column will appear each Wednesday in this space.