You can’t postpone terrorism by shutting down daily life. Nor can you solve the world’s problems by postponing the NCAA Tournament.

NCAA President Miles Brand’s decision to “let the games go on” despite an impending war in Iraq is the right one. And it’s not because of the money – CBS has a $6 billion contract with the NCAA for televising it. It’s not because I have already filled out four tourney brackets – which are all destined to lose.

It’s about living our life without looking over our shoulder. It’s about not letting a tyrant control our lives. It’s about sending a message that “We will not waver. We will not go quietly into the night.”

The only reason to postpone the tournament is if the participants, the fans, the administrators – the American people – are in danger. Brand’s checked his sources in the government, and they said not to worry.

“We are also concerned that life go on as normal,” Brand said. “We see no reason, after consulting with (Homeland Security Secretary Tom) Ridge, to make any alterations to our plan.”

Playing the tournament games doesn’t undermine the incredibly courageous and important effort that U.S. troops are about to embark on. It’s just exercising the liberty and freedom that they are fighting to provide.

It would do a disservice to them – and their confidence – if we live in fear and not attempt to keep the “normalcy.”

And it does hit close to home for me as well. Currently, my 19-year old stepbrother is stationed in Kuwait. He enlisted just months ago, went through boot camp, and now he’s been thrown into the mess.

Less than a year ago, we were sharing laughs at his high school graduation party. Now, I just hope that I’ll get to laugh with him again.

War is a serious issue. It’s scary. And it’s our ability to lose ourselves in entertainment venues such as “March Madness” that can help us escape the everyday madness, the constant CNN updates and the disturbing daily headlines in newspapers.

We’re already going to have war smothered in our face with minute-to-minute coverage on nearly every single network. We’re already going to get more than a mouthful of education on the situation in the Middle East and the terror introduced by Saddam Hussein.

What’s wrong with having on a station we can look to that makes us smile, that makes us laugh, that makes us remember how easy and carefree life can be when its not toiled in a bitter war thousands of miles away?

We need a break. We need a reprieve.

And those young men and women participating in the tourney need the chance to chase their dreams.

No, the battles that these players are fighting are not even close to the significance or magnitude of the battles the proud men and women in the Army, Air Force and Marines will be in.

Sorry, Tyronne Lue.

You’re out of your mind. Your fighting for a playoff spot for the NBA’s Washington Wizards is NOT “the same” as the soldiers fighting for peace.

But as insanely idiotic as Lue’s comments were, he still should get a chance to “fight” for his playoff spot, just as the college athletes deserve to dream about ending their senior season bringing home a national title to their school.

They shouldn’t put their lives on hold, as Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.

“There’s the old saying that you can’t quit living,” Izzo told the Detroit Free Press.

We can’t quit living. We can’t quit going to work. We can’t quit going to school. We have to move forward and keep our heads high.

And that doesn’t mean we quit praying, quit honoring our soldiers or quit putting everything in the right perspective.

We just can’t stop playing. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Joe Smith can be reached at

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