The past two weeks have been weird — to say the least.
A week ago Wednesday, when the newspaper was submitted to the printer, the only mention of COVID-19 on the sports side was that all active North American leagues were restricting locker room access to media.
Boy did things change from there.
No less than two days later, the NBA suspended its season, March Madness was canceled, every major sport had followed the NBA’s lead and it became the darkest day in sports history.
Sometimes I’ve found myself searching for something to do with no sports on TV. What am I supposed to do? Read a book? Talk to someone? I don’t think so.
Now, sports fans are left with nothing. It’s been weird. It’s crazy to see how much impact sports have on us all, not just me.
Reactions to having no entertainment from professional and collegiate athletes have been wide-ranging. Some feel as if these measures are just an overreaction, some are just sad they won’t see their favorite players in action and understand the restrictions.
But I don’t know if it’s the sports that we’re actually missing.
It’s normal to turn on ESPN and see highlights of LeBron James. It’s normal to get notifications on your phone about Spring Training games from the Kansas City Royals. It’s normal to watch Northwest go on its annual run to the national title game.
But this isn’t normal.
Sports have been deeply embedded in our lives. There’s no question about that. It’s what’s normal.
Normalcy is craved in times that are unknown. Humans are creatures of habit.
Sports provide normalcy. A sense of escape, relief. In times of trouble, we turn to sports. Now they aren’t there.
When tragic events happened, sports were there. Throughout the reports of Kobe Bryant’s death, sports were there. Shootings, natural disasters, turmoil, losses, personal despair, sports were there.
As the coronavirus has torn down the figurative barrier between us and reality, we are now forced to come face to face with it.
I’ve done several interviews and have talked to numerous people about the effects of this pandemic. During those conversations, I have heard this situation of shock compared to the 9/11 attacks.
After the event in 2001, people turned to sports as a break from reality. Sports were there.
One of the more powerful images of a return to normalcy was former President George W. Bush throwing out the first pitch in Game 3 of the 2001 World Series.
It’s hard to be convinced everything is going to be okay when the thing we turn to when things go wrong in the “real world” has gone wrong itself.
Without the distraction of sports, we have to face reality. A reality that, in some ways, is not easy to face.
The coronavirus is a serious problem. Life must take precedence.
While it may not seem like it now, sports will be back. Sports will be there again as a nation begins to recover from the pandemic and the normalcy will slowly start to be restored.
Which is really what we’re searching for.