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Palm Beach Post (Florida)


Cricket is no big deal in America. Here, though, is some news on the sport that makes a difference for everybody, even meat-and-potatoes NFL fans.

The Champions Trophy tournament, one of the elite events of the International Cricket Council, is going on as scheduled this week in England. The London Bridge terror attacks of Saturday night didn't stop the massing of fans for matches in that city and in others across the United Kingdom.

Matter of fact, there's a match today, India vs. Sri Lanka, at The Oval, a cricket ground located just 2 miles from the nightmarish scene at London Bridge, where eight people were killed and dozens injured by attackers using knives and a sidewalk-crashing van as weapons.

Increased security is being employed for the rest of the tournament, of course, with pat-down checks of ticket holders at the gates and vehicle inspections at the parking entrances all the way through the championship match on June 18 in London.

These methods would cause more than complaints at a U.S. sporting event. They would cause some fans simply to stay home, avoiding the hassle and avoiding the uncomfortable feeling of being at a place where they might be targeted just for showing up.

Now comes the question of whether the Miami Dolphins should just stay home, too.

The team is scheduled to play in London's Wembley Stadium on Oct. 1 against the Saints.

It's the Dolphins' third trip there in four years, and they're not alone as globetrotters.

Three more London regular-season games are on the 2017 NFL schedule, plus the Patriots and Raiders in Mexico City on Nov. 19.

Crowds will be enormous in every case and the NFL banner will fly high, but I'm guessing that fewer players will be excited about bringing their families along this time. They'll wonder if England's security is too porous in the wake of this attack, plus last month's suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

Can't blame anybody for being nervous.

There will continue, however, to be Premier League soccer games and major concerts and the traditional Wimbledon fortnight. Londoners won't hide, from the queen bee herself to the championship cricketers.

My initial reaction to all of this is to stand up and cheer their enduring confidence, so worthy of respect in an ally, and to trust that Scotland Yard and all the rest of Britain's law enforcement and terror alert forces will be as aggressive as our own in bringing order to chaos.

The Dolphins should do the same, understanding that Wembley Stadium on game day might just be the safest place on the continent based on all the bomb-sniffing dogs and specialized guards patrolling that turf.

Down the road? NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has even bigger plans for London, and fat contracts to make them real.

Tottenham Hotspur, a Premier League team, is getting a state-of-the-art stadium with a grass field that is designed to retract, revealing an NFL-ready artificial-turf field underneath. The league has pumped more than $12 million into the project and has a contract to play at least two NFL games there for a period of 10 years, beginning in 2018.

I've been predicting for years that the Super Bowl would end up in London sooner or later, the precursor of some distant announcement of an NFL franchise gaining permanent residence there. The rise of terror attacks throughout Europe in recent years might slow that ultimate momentum, if only because team owners want the surest possible bet on their investment.

Look how long it took them to decide that Los Angeles should have pro football again, or that Las Vegas was worth the gamble.

In all, greater precautions must be taken in trips to Europe these days, in any business, in any city. The world is changing in ways we don't like, and we must change, too.

Therefore, when the Dolphins arrive in London on Week 4, I resolve to fret more about Saints quarterback Drew Brees than any other threat.

Just as there is no thoroughly secure place in this world, there is no truly haunted major city, either.

If it were so, thousands of Brits and other international visitors would have stopped landing at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport following the mass shooting that occurred at a baggage claim area there in January.

They're still coming, though, just as two precious members of my own family arrived at the same airport on Wednesday morning. Pleased to say that my concern was with the lousy weather upon their arrival, nothing more. Twitter: @Dave_GeorgePBP

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June 8, 2017


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