When Is It Okay?: Sports Commissioners Reflect on Restarting Sports After 9/11

Yankees fans hold a sign reading “We’re Back” as they sit in the stands during a World Series game after 9/11.
New York Yankees fans hold a banner during game four of the Major League Baseball World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Yankee Stadium in New York, New York. Photo by Doug Pensinger/ALLSPORT via Getty Images.

In the aftermath of the attacks of 9/11, leaders of all stripes had to make decisions about how best to move forward after tragedy.

On Thursday, Feb. 28, our second public program of the winter 2019 season, “When Is It Okay? Restarting Sports After 9/11,” addresses this very issue. ESPN’s Mike Greenberg, NBA Commissioner Emeritus David J. Stern, WNBA Founding President and Big East Conference Commissioner Val Ackerman, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, and current NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will discuss the specific challenges facing sports commissioners following the attacks.

While the most important questions after 9/11 centered on victims and their families, the attacks challenged first responders and public safety personnel to consider their next steps in the complex rescue and recovery mission at Ground Zero. For those in other parts of the country and the world, we tried to find the best way to support those most affected by the tragedy. In the business community, 9/11 challenged leaders with questions like: When should work resume? How do we guarantee safety during business?

For leaders in sports, they exercised judgement to manage game day operations, ensure fan and team personnel safety and find “the right way” to remember and honor the 2,977 people who were killed. Those pivotal moments when play resumed proved that sports can play an essential role in consoling and healing a grieving nation.  

Mike Piazza’s homerun, the President’s first pitch and so many other moments featured in our special exhibition “Comeback Season: Sports After 9/11” would not be possible without the leadership of this program’s panelists. We invite you to join us and learn more about how the 2001–2 comeback season shaped their personal stories and continues to shape one the greatest cultural influences in America today: sports.

Tickets for this program can be reserved here. If you can’t make it to the Museum auditorium, you can catch the program via livestream.

By Timothy McGuirk, Communications Manager, 9/11 Memorial 

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