By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editor
It's difficult to feel much of anything right now.
The myriad of emotions that we have experienced in the past few days have been filled with highs and lows that leaves a person drained, emotionally and physically.
As I sit here staring at my computer screen, I am completely confused. Do I write about sports as if they have any relevance to the bigger concerns of our country? Do I write about the war and my beliefs, despite the fact that this is the sports section, not the opinion pages?
Do people even care about the NCAA tournament? Does the NCAA tournament offer us a brief respite allowing us to take our minds off of war in Iraq and ideological disagreement amongst our own citizens?
A thousand thoughts race through my mind every second. Each one feels like it could be a column, but I can't even seem to put them into a simple sentence.
With so many ideas in my mind, but so few sentences on my screen, I am going to do something I can't stand. I am going to offer a random thoughts column because right now I can't offer much more.
Very rarely, if ever, will you see my opinion concerning political events gracing this column. The top of the page says "Sports" and that's what I intend to write about.
I am one of the few people who doesn't believe that Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan or any other sports figure shouldn't be expected to offer their opinions and beliefs on world events. Just because an athlete can hit a drive 300 yards or score 50 points in a game, should mean they have some great responsibility to take sides in political debate.
Why should we expect it from them? Yes, they are sports icons and role models for people around the country. But that doesn't mean we should expect them or anyone else to voice their own personal beliefs for our critique.
My father fought in the Vietnam War and I've never asked him what it was like, to relive any moments or his feelings about war in general. Anything he has told me about the war was of his own volition. I never once expected that he should tell me. If it was something he felt like talking about, he would have.
In a world where personal privacy is getting smaller with each passing moment, our personal beliefs and thoughts are just a few things that we can keep to ourselves. Being a responsible citizen, doesn't mean we have to voice our opinions on every issue - only that we are informed enough to make our own decisions on those issues.
That said, I do support war with Iraq. Not because I believe that all of our intentions, primary or secondary, are noble. What I do believe is that Saddam Hussein is pure evil. It's that simple. There are evil people in this world filled with anger and hate and Hussein is one of those people. He hates the United States, its people and what we stand for. If given the opportunity, he would destroy everyone of us, even the people who don't believe we should go to war with Iraq.
To compare what the U.S. is doing to what Adolph Hitler did along the Polish border is not only foolish, but uninformed and irresponsible. If anyone should be compared to Hitler and Nazi Germany, it should be Saddam Hussein.
I once wrote in a column in college, "there is no such thing as a stupid protest, just stupid ways to protest." It's something that I stand by. After living in Missoula, Montana's protest capital, I have witnessed protests good and bad - from Native Americans protesting Columbus Day by holding a drum ceremony (good), to a group of people protesting strip mining by streaking across campus (bad). For me to take your protests and opinions seriously, make them informed and respectful.
Do I feel guilty for watching the NCAA tournament instead of war coverage? Somewhat.
To be honest, I can't watch hour after hour of war coverage. It isn't depressing, but it gets monotonous and leaves my ears with a shrill ringing noise. There is a limit to the amount of analysis a person can take.
It doesn't mean your a bad American if you don't sit and watch continuous news coverage of the war. It means you're human. A person can only take so much of it and it helps to escape if only for a little while from the harsh reality of what's going on in Iraq.
Last night offered a perfect example. I was with a group of friends watching the tournament, eating some snacks and having some beverages. It was a good time. We were laughing and teasing each other about everything and anything.
Our enjoyment was interrupted by Dan Rather, who came on our screen to announce that a CH-46 Sea Night helicopter crashed killing 16 people, 12 of whom were Americans. The room went silent immediately as all of us understood the gravity of the situation. In a war people die, it's unavoidable. But the death of those 16 people, was still a painful reminder.
After that report, the game's outcome just didn't seem quite so important.
Last night at the Montreal Canadians-New York Rangers hockey game in Montreal thousands of fans booed during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner. Didn't I just write something about stupid protests? When was the last time that Canada stood for anything but their own interests? Perhaps New York Ranger and Minnesota native Mark Parrish summed it up best in an interview on Canada's Sports Network, "If it wasn't for America, who knows what language I'd be speaking now."