Storm of Protest Drowns Out New York Marathon

Peter AlfanoContributor IINovember 2, 2012

Super storm Sandy devastated many neighborhoods and coastal areas.
Super storm Sandy devastated many neighborhoods and coastal areas.Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

Neither rain nor snow nor a super storm named Sandy is going to keep the show from going on.

The New York Knicks playing their first game of the NBA season at Madison Square Garden Friday night and the New York Giants playing the Pittsburgh Steelers at Met Life Stadium Sunday.

And until late Friday afternoon, the New York City Marathon was proceeding on schedule. Sorry, too late. An 11th-hour cancellation doesn't make me feel any better.

The scheduling of sports events this weekend is the most insensitive and callous thing to happen in sports since the NFL played all its games two days after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.

I was born and raised in New York and spent 46 years of my life there, including living on Long Island and in Connecticut. I have lived in Florida, Texas and now Alabama for 20 years, but once a New Yorker always a New Yorker.

I remember losing power for a week when Hurricane Gloria hit; I remember a freak snow storm in early October when I lived in Connecticut that felled trees and power lines. Again, no power for a week.

There seemed to be an annual hurricane that roared up the East Coast when I was a kid. I have shoveled more than my share of snow over the years after a blizzard struck.

Nothing I experienced, however, comes close to the devastation caused by Sandy. The storm was unprecedented in the recorded history of weather and the reaction by the sports world should mirror that.

I know that Mayor Bloomberg wanted the marathon to go on as scheduled to show the resilience of New Yorkers. Nothing can keep us down for long.

But 9-11 demonstrated that quality. And if you remember, Major League Baseball cancelled games for five days.

The Brooklyn Nets cancelled their first game in their new home in the aftermath of Sandy, but the Knicks are going ahead as scheduled, even though many people in the region are without power and traffic is still a mess because mass transit and commuter railroads are not running at full capacity.

The Giants are playing on Sunday, even though the Steelers cannot get a hotel in the New York metropolitan area and are flying in that morning.

And what was anyone with any common sense thinking by going forward with the marathon? The race goes through all five boroughs and requires a great deal of support from police, fire and rescue personnel, all of whom are already working around the clock to help the victims of the super storm. 

Even worse than the logistical problems, these sports events present is the lack of respect being shown those who have lost family or friends and have been made homeless by Sandy.

There are people in New York and New Jersey who are without food and water. Several hospitals had to be evacuated, and it is a miracle that no patient at last report had died because of the transfer.

Some people are living in what is now the equivalent of a third-world country.

The U.S. Navy has sent warships to the region so that helicopters would be able to continue rescue operations for those stranded in their flooded homes and neighborhoods. Utility crews and equipment from as far away as California are being airlifted to New York to assist in trying to restore power.

And the mayor was planning to celebrate the perseverance of New Yorkers with a marathon?

No, not really. He wanted the revenue the marathon generates for the city, even though that revenue would have been greatly diminished. 

As for David Stern and Roger Goodell, couldn't they find a way to reschedule games to give the region another day or two to recover?

I get it: Sports is supposed to divert our attention from the grim reality of a storm-ravaged region. but whose attention is being diverted? Can a New Yorker watch a game if he or she doesn't have power?

Does anyone who has seen their house and most treasured possessions washed away by flood waters or ravaged by fire really care if the Giants beat the Steelers?

In a tweet, Dwyane Wade of the Heat said he was surprised their game against the Knicks was not cancelled. He thought there were too many other more pressing matters to deal with.

Thankfully, his sentiments aren't falling entirely on deaf ears.