Slaw Says: America has not changed, but returns to worshiping pop stars, athletes

It was just another Tuesday in a string of days ending in "Y" that I will live throughout my life. I was awake, and I was showered. I was complaining to myself about the long walk I was about to take to class. Then something on TV caught my attention.

That was one year ago today.

One year ago today, I dropped my bag off my shoulder, forgot about my class, sat in my crowded dorm room and watched as our world got smaller.

The towers fell. Innocents died. Victims' families cried. Politicians tried to hold us together. I watched it all.

As I sat in that blue light and the images saturated every crevasse of my mind and stapled themselves onto the foreground of my vision, I forgot about everything except what was happening right in front of me. I didn't think about my classes, my dwindling bank account or my plans for the weekend. Possibly farthest from my thoughts were sports.

In the coming days, people talked about change. They said we would never be the same. Things would be different after Sept. 11 - and I agreed. I thought, "Yes. We will value our lives more now. We will see what is really important. We will change for the better."

I still did not think about sports.

For a time, the change was obvious. We were united. We took pride in what we were. We found and recognized our real heroes: the firefighters, EMTs and police officers. The sun had never shined so bright and the grass had never been greener. We, as Americans, loved each other.

Nothing can last forever, though.

It did not seem like much time had passed before we had returned to our normal hero worship of pop stars and athletes. The lessons we had learned had not necessarily been forgotten, just pushed aside so we could focus on other matters.

More time passed and the lessons were pushed even further aside. People started to say things such as, "I'm tired of hearing about terrorists." People started to go back to the way things had been before the attacks. They went back to normalcy.

Common people were not the only ones to go back. Athletes came with us.

The world of sports today is much like it was a year ago, five years ago or a decade ago. First-round draft picks hold out for more money. Players threaten to go on strike because they may make $10 million a year instead of $15 million or may be tested for performance enhancing drugs.

We said everything would be different. We were going to love each other. We were going to value every molecule of air and every drop of blood in our bodies. We knew what was really important.

Our real heroes have gradually slid from the spotlight only to be replaced by the heroes on TV. Our thoughts have turned back to award shows and football and away from terrorism and safety. Our lives are back to "normal."

One year ago today, we changed.

Tell me, America, is the grass still green?

Write to Cole at


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