After 9/11, I Needed Football…And I Still Do

By Rixon Lane

I don't remember where I was on Sept. 10, 2001. Or Sept. 12. 

But I remember the day in between.

I was at a sports complex in Spartanburg, S.C., unsure of what the parents were whispering about and why my teachers had been so quiet all day.

On Sept. 11, I was at a football practice. 

 

That night, I cried as my mom told me about the horrific attacks on America earlier that day. I was nine years old and scared. Suddenly, my life didn't seem secure. I didn't want to go to school or to practice or out to dinner. I just wanted to be home.

Then came September 20th.

South Carolina had cancelled its game against Bowling Green five days earlier. Now, the Gamecocks were in Starkville to face the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the first Division 1-A football game to be played since the attacks. 

I've never been to Mississippi State University and I've never spoken with anyone who was involved with the pre-game that took place that night. But if you're reading this and had any part of it, I think I speak on behalf of all college football fans when I say, thank you for the first eight minutes of this video. 

It was beautiful, touching, and exactly what this country needed.

Then the whistle blew, the ball was kicked, and life was back to normal.

South Carolina won 16-14, thanks to three field goals from Daniel Weaver and a breakout performance from Corey Jenkins. I sat on the couch and watched the entire game, biting my nails for the entire fourth quarter as the Gamecocks tried to hang on to maintain their undefeated record. I was just like every college football fan that night. For the first time in over a week, I wasn't afraid. 

 

I'm 22 now and, in some ways, I'm still scared. 

Thirteen years after 9/11, there's still a small part of me that is afraid every time I walk into a large public venue. No matter how many silent pep talks I give myself, I still worry about the thousands of people roaming in a bustling area where anyone could disappear into a crowd. Regardless of the location of the game, the implications on the national championship game, or the amount of work I have to get done, I can't enter a college football stadium until I say the same prayer I've said every Saturday since 9/11.

"Lord, keep us safe…please keep us safe."

Then, the whistle blows and the ball is kicked.

And I'm home.