Bloomberg Makes the Right Call
Hurricane Sandy ravaged our homes and towns. The New Jersey and New York metro areas are looking at weeks, months and in some places years of recovery and rebuilding. Here at Sports Debaters, we made out luckier than many of our friends, family and acquaintances, but our thoughts and prayers go out to the thousands of people who have lost so much. On a much smaller scale, this storm affected the New York City sports world. There was an announcement on Tuesday that tonight’s Brooklyn Nets first ever opener against the New York Knicks at the Barclay’s Center was going to be played. Yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg reversed that decision, and now the Brooklyn faithful will get to watch the Brooklyn Nets play their first game ever in the borough on Saturday.
In my opinion, the Mayor got this decision absolutely correct. There are some people who are saying that the best way to recover from such devastation is to distract ourselves with sports and entertainment. This argument makes sense in some areas. If the recovery was complete and people were at the stage of moving on, I would agree that this game should be played. Having the two New York City teams play for the first time ever in a brand new building would be a grand celebration. The problem is though that the city is still in shambles. Power is still out all over Manhattan, Long Island and New Jersey. People will not be able to watch the game as a result. If people aren’t able to watch but know the game is taking place, it is even more of a reminder of the devastation our area suffered. Sports can definitely help recovery but it needs to be at the right time.
Unfortunately, one of the uglier effects of the storm has been individuals looting areas that have seen lots of destruction. Criminals have gone into abandoned homes, stores without power and cars that have lost electric circuits to take goods and money. There are also many people out on the streets or in shelters who need support. For these reasons, it would be totally irresponsible to staff NYPD at the Barclay’s Center for the opening night. The city’s police need to be in the streets helping to restore order and assisting New Yorkers with whatever they need. Having them stand guard at an arena is important, but not when there are tons of more pressing needs around the city.
The Barclay’s Center was built in an area of Brooklyn incredibly accessible to many Subway lines. However, due to the storm, many of these train lines are suspended and not working. Therefore, having opening night, a game in which all ticket holders have been looking forward to for months, when many of them can’t access the arena is unfair. Yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg also announced that there are car pool regulations on all bridges heading into and out of Manhattan. That would also extremely limit the amount of people who could attend the game, making the Mayor’s decision to cancel correct.
I understand as much as anyone, being a sports fan, that the games we love can help distract us from times of great loss. The Yankees, Mets and NFL season helped New Yorkers immensely in 2001 in the weeks and months following the attacks on 9/11. Likewise, the city of New Orleans was lifted by the heroics displayed by Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in the seasons following Hurricane Katrina. However, both those situations saw cancellations and repair before sports took center stage and assisted in the recovery. New Yorkers and New Jerseyites still need a few days (months for many) to straighten out our lives and return to normal. Schools need to open, power needs to be restored and transportation must be up and running before the Nets open up their doors for a celebration. Residents of New York City cannot wait to see the Nets and Knicks begin a borough rivalry, but let’s wait until all individuals in the tri-state area can enjoy.