In the bigger picture any sport is really just a diversion to help us deal with what is going on the real world and that’s not too pretty at the moment after Islamic radicals struck in one of the Western world’s signature cities, murdering 129 innocents and injuring 352 others at last count in Paris.
The death toll is sure to rise over the coming days and it could have been much worse if one of the homicide bombers actually pulled off his sadistic role in the coordinated plot based on a seventh-century religious ideology.
At least one of the attackers outside Stade de France, the country’s national soccer stadium, had a ticket to the friendly match between France and Germany and planned to enter the 80,000-seat venue, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The attacker was discovered as he was frisked at the entrance before backing away from security and detonating his explosive vest. Shortly thereafter, the second part of this particular terror cell also blew himself up outside the stadium, and a third homicide bomber attempted to acquire his virgins by saying goodbye at a nearby McDonald’s.
Despite all of that only one civilian died in that part of the attacks, according to French police.
French President François Hollande was present at the pitch and although there has be no confirmation that security was at a higher level than normal, that’s a safe assumption to make and a twist of fate that likely saved dozens of lives at the bare minimum.
The NFL and every other sports leagues certainly took notice of the planned attack at a big-time sporting event and the league upped security around the country on Sunday.
It also aimed to ease fears.
“The safety of our fans, stadium personnel, and teams at all NFL games is our priority, and security at our games is robust,” the NFL said in a statement. “Our procedures have been certified and designated by the Department of Homeland Security since 2008 as effective anti-terrorism technology. All NFL clubs use mandatory metal detector screening and multiple layers of perimeter security external to the stadium to safeguard fans and the stadium from explosive threats.
“Following the events in Paris on Friday, we are closely monitoring events and have been in communication with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, which have informed us that there are no known threats against NFL stadiums.
“In addition to our standard procedures described above, there will be an increased security and law enforcement presence both inside and outside stadiums in the parking lots of our stadiums this weekend. We have been in contact with clubs hosting games to reinforce our standard procedures and the league’s best practices.”
For the most part I do feel safe at NFL stadiums and did so again when arriving at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday for the Dolphins-Eagles game, but the average NFL press box is far more insulated than what a typical fan has to go through. And the Boston Marathon bombing proved how easy it is for one of these lunatics to hit a so-called soft target, perhaps not inside a well-secured structure but outside.
About the only thing that sparks more vitriol in this country than a big-time sports rivalry is politics and you will continue to hear some outrageous rhetoric in the coming weeks and months as we enter a presidential election year.
But this isn’t Bears versus Packers or the Cowboys against the Redskins.
We all have to be on the same team in this fight and a good place to start is identifying the enemy.
Bernie Sanders taking 90 percent of some rich guy’s income isn’t extreme nor is Donald Trump believing there should be a barrier built on our southern border, at least when you compare that to people who want you dead, even the most progressive of you at the local liberal arts campus.
Extremism is believing you should have your head cut off because you don’t think Sharia law is the best thing in the world. Extremism is willing to blow yourself to smithereens to take the infidels with you. It’s executing young people at a night club or a restaurant so the whole world becomes an Islamic caliphate where women are sex slaves and gays are tortured and murdered.
And these people don’t negotiate. They don’t care if you “understand” their plight or identify yourself as sympathetic to their cause.
Your life is worth the same as mine — who at least has the common sense to point at the problem — … nothing.
The fact that most who practice Islam do so in a respectful and responsible way is a red herring because their religion has been perverted and radicalized by far too many.
Re-branding it is their problem.
Our problem is saving the way of life we have built, so savor the diversion today but understand it’s under siege.
— John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @jfmcmullen. Also catch John this season on ESPN Southwest Florida every Monday at 3 PM ET; on ESPN Lexington every Thursday at 6:05 ET, and live every Tuesday from 2 to 6 PM ET at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City for The Sports Bash on ESPN South Jersey.
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