When Devon Walker collided with a teammate and hit the ground Saturday, nobody could have expected this. By football standards, the collision wasn't overly violent; in fact, it looked like nothing at first glance. But after a few seconds, Walker still hadn't moved, and it became apparent that this was more serious than it first appeared.
As we watched one replay after another, we were reminded that it's not necessarily how hard you get hit, but where. Trainers surrounded Walker as players from both teams could do nothing more than stand there in shock. Chapman Stadium was eerily silent.
At that moment, football was the last thing on everyone's mind – and it should have stayed that way.
Because the injury occurred on the final play of the half, the two teams eventually made their way to the locker room and attempted to regroup. All it took was watching the players come back out for the second half to realize that the locker room is where they should have stayed. They looked understandably distracted and just mentally out-of-it. This game should have been called at halftime.
Let me be very clear, I am in no way blaming any player for not being super-excited to play in that second half. Just imagine yourself in their shoes; you would be just as unmotivated as they were to go hit people for a half-hour after witnessing a tragedy like that.
I hear the argument for finishing the game. "Tulane could come back and win" or "it will affect statistics and potential awards," or even "the fans paid to watch the whole game."
While I get it, it's wrong. The halftime score was 35-3 and the teams were simply on different levels. Tulsa was scoring at will and the Green Wave was helpless to stop it. Anyone who thinks Tulane could have come back to win that game is kidding themself, so scratch that argument.
Tulsa quarterback Cody Green threw for 22 yards in the second half after racking up 252 in the first half. TU scored 10 points in the second after scoring 25 in the first half. The Hurricane completely called off the dogs, and the statistics showed.
If there is a person who would legitimately complain about "not getting their money's worth" because they didn't get to watch that terrible second half, shame on them.
Just a few hours after this game was over Saturday, Savannah State found itself trailing Florida State 55-0 in the third quarter when the game was called because there was lightning in the area. A blowout football game, just like Tulsa's, was called, simply for precautionary reasons; no one had actually been hurt. That was the right decision. Anyone who's ever played competitive football will tell you that the most dangerous time to play the game is when you're not focused 100 percent, because that's when injuries are most likely to occur. This could have just as easily been cancelled for precautionary reasons as the Florida State game.
Bottom line is, there's no shame in not finishing a football game. Football is a game that is played for the excitement and fun that comes with competition, but Saturday's second half wasn't fun or exciting. The phrase "it's all fun and games until somebody gets hurt" may often be used jokingly, but it exists for a reason: it's true.
I just hope that the next time tragedy strikes at a college football game, or any sporting event, the administrators and coaches involved might remember why the game is being played in the first place.
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