LSU football could dismantle Chip Kelly’s seemingly potent UCLA offense on Saturday, while Max Johnson lights the picturesque Pasadena horizon with touchdown pass after touchdown pass and Ed Orgeron’s coarse Cajun baritone echoes across the Rose Bowl.
None of this matters.
So often sports become platitudes during times of tragedy. Here we are again. Football is an inadequate response to the human suffering Hurricane Ida left behind in Louisiana. The resilience of her citizens tested once more.
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Louisiana living means accepting Mother Nature can disable the state overnight. And in many cases, the aftermath of broken pumps and disabled power grids disrupt daily life more than the actual storm. A harsh truth for a harsh land and those who call it home.
Where’s the appeal? Ask the people rescued by the Cajun Navy, who set sail following Ida’s exit. Or the Nicholls State students welcomed with open arms in Ruston. Lake Charles is still recovering from Hurricane Laura one year later, but McNeese State was one of the first to offer assistance to its sister schools in the University of Louisiana System.
Geographic differences fade during a crisis. We take care of our neighbors down here.
The word distraction will be used often over the coming weeks. Just understand the true definition. It’s hyperbole to pretend that a football game provides the necessary closure for someone who either lost their home or has no idea what home they’ll come back to. Not to mention insulting.
Interruption seems more fitting. Distraction implies a total immersion in outside event. The truth is these moments are fleeting, lasting seconds at best in most instances. But those precious seconds can make all the difference for some.
LSU will open the 2021 season at UCLA after a trying week in Houston. The Saints, who relocated from New Orleans to Dallas ahead of Ida, will follow suit against the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 12, but not in the Superdome. Tulane’s Saturday home opener against Oklahoma was relocated to Norman.
Things are less settled elsewhere. Southeastern Louisiana, the preseason pick to win the Southland Conference, moved its season opener from Hammond to North Alabama’s Braly Stadium. Memphis has offered its athletic facilities to Nicholls while players at other in-state programs are scrambling to locate loved ones.
Lafourche Parish, where Nicholls is located, took the brunt from Ida. The university remains closed indefinitely while the football team is scheduled to open the season against Memphis on Saturday. Until schools can reopen, the prospects for prep football in the area are grim.
Nothing that happens on the field this weekend will take away the pain. Diminish it? Maybe. Except it just isn’t that simple. Recovery has no Hollywood ending. The work is arduous, sometimes heartbreaking, and continues long after the credits roll.
But we’re still here. And that’s what really matters.
Follow Adam Hunsucker on Twitter @adam_hunsucker or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.