Play ball..

The show must go on…

Start your engines…

Tee it up…

All sports or theatrical metaphors that say we should proceed as if nothing tragic or inconvenient has happened.

Last night’s severe storms in Atlanta — apparently categorized as a tornado — was strange to watch live on TV. At a friend’s house, we lapped up every “replay” of the shaking beams, rafters, catwalks, banners and falling debris. Once the announcers finally pitched to some raw footage of debris from outside the arena, we were surprised at the damage, but the announcers clearly were shaken at the realization that they’d definitely dodged disaster.

SEC officials — realizing they had thousands of out of town guests spending millions of dollars to watch a weekend of basketball — also knew they had to keep their visitors safe. Sending them out into the severe weather didn’t appear to be an option and — for a few moments — keeping them inside the Georgia Dome seemed to be a bit of a risk. No doubt, tournament officials had eyes on satellite and radar imagery, were keeping an eye on the wind speeds and most likely knew engineering reports by heart — what would the roof of the Georgia Dome withstand?

After an all-night discussion, tournament officials had to make some very, very difficult decisions. I suspect the first objective was to get the games played — before 5pm Sunday (when the NCAA announced its tournament bids). From there, they had to secure a venue nearby and hammer out a schedule for playing remaining games — which might require one or more teams to play twice in one day.

Just as important as anything else was making accommodations for Raycom — which had to break down equipment and miles of cabling — and move it to the alternate facility, set everything back up, make sure it all works right, and be ready to go for a noon Saturday tip. Wow!I That’s tough. Very tough.

Unfortunately, these priorities filled the plates of event organizers. It would be everything they could do to accomplish their objectives between 4am and noon on Saturday.

The tournament decided to limit audiences to teams, families, traveling cheer teams, and media.

Eye On Sports Media: SEC Tournament Moved To Georgia Tech; Fans Locked Out

I feel terrible for the thousands of fans who spent a lot of money flying, driving, dining, and lodging in Atlanta for the best 2 days of the tournament. Now they’ll miss being in the arena for the games.

On the outside looking in, though, how would the tournament determine a fair ratio of fans from every school get into the arena? Razorback fans always turn out in full force. What would happen if the Hogs were in the championship game and only Razorback fans were in the arena — just because of the luck of the draw? It wouldn’t be fair for the other team to suddenly be fighting for a berth in the NCAA tournament on what would essentially be a home setting for the Hogs?

No doubt, lots and lots and LOTS of SEC fans in Atlanta are fuming. I feel for them.

But you know what? I’m thankful they’re able to fume about that. I’m thankful we’re not all worried sick about loved ones in Atlanta, wondering if friends are underneath a pile of rubble on the site of the Georgia Dome.

I’m thankful that today, across the U.S., many teams are playing ball, that the show is going on, that racers will start their engines at Bristol, and that golfers can concentrate on straight drives, solid putts, and playing for love of the game.

Weekend sports bring rhythm, pageantry, and excitement to our nation. Competition seems to be a last vestige of authenticity — unpredictability — it’s a place where everyday people like us can watch our own kind walk into the spotlight and perform better than he or she is — on paper — capable of doing. It’s about measuring big hearts, desire, and courage.

Our nation needs genuine heroes. The NCAA Tournament during the next couple of weeks will reveal a miracle team — a person who captures our hearts and inspires us to be better, to do better, and to believe in miracles.

I can’t wait for One Shining Moment.

But time is short
and the road is long
in the blinking of an eye
ah that moment’s gone
And when it’s done
win or lose
you always did your best
cuz inside you knew…
Feel the beat of your heart
feel the wind in your face
it’s more than a contest
it’s more than a race…

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