Saturday, December 31, 2011
Newspaper made the right decision to run epitaph
“The adjacent story quite obviously was written prior to the tragic air crash which took the lives of an undetermined number of Marshall University football players, coaches, athletic department personnel and fans. To have rewritten the story, to have pretended that the game
had never been played, would have been a disservice to those who took part in it.
Therefore, it is being presented in its entirety as an epitaph.”
Herald-Advertiser sports section
November 15, 1970
There may have been some folks who had an issue with the Herald-Advertiser newspaper running the actual Marshall-East Carolina game story on its sports page the day after the plane crash. If there were people who did feel that way, they were wrong.
On the front page of the section, there’s a boxed blurb positioned right above Ernie Salvatore’s sports column at the top left-hand portion of the page. This blurb, set in bold type, explained the newspaper’s reasoning for running the article as if there had been no plane crash (see enlarged quote above).
No doubt, the widespread grief caused by the tragedy was inescapable and all too obvious. On the other hand, it wouldn’t have made much sense to ignore that a game had been played. Running that game story had nothing to do being insensitive about tragic circumstances. It was more about showing respect while at the same time honoring the team that perished. And besides, Salvatore shared his sentiments in his column. The paper’s readers were not short-changed in any manner. They got all the information they could want about the tragedy in other sections of the paper.
In defeat and in death, the ’70 edition of the Thundering Herd set an admirable standard for playing hard and fast until the final gun. Even in the sadness of that situation, I read the story and envisioned how the game played out and realized just how close Marshall came to pulling off a gutsy comeback.
Yes, the players were gone and never to return. That was a hard tablet to swallow. Even so, just knowing that the final outcome wasn’t decided until the closing seconds was evidence enough that despite being short-handed personnel-wise, they never gave up. The Thundering Herd left it all on the field that day at East Carolina.
The ’70 team gets my continuous applause.