Our lives have changed forever. All over the world, and inside our nation, state, and communities, the sporting world has changed. With the battle our nation is engaged in to fight the COVID-19 virus, one has to ask if sports will ever be the same again. It has caused others to ask if we will ever see sports again.
Throughout our history, sports have endured the Great Depression, world wars, and epidemics such as polio, swine flu, SARS, and on and on. But perhaps at no time in our history have sports, along with the rest of our society, ever been threatened for its mere existence as it is today.
All it takes is a short drive past the empty ball fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, etc, to see the stark contrast of silent and empty venues where just a few short weeks ago they were brimming with the chatter of young kids, fans, parents, and grandparents. And one has to wonder if it will ever return to what we were used to seeing and took for granted.
Simple gestures, such as lining up after a game and shaking hands with the opposing team to say “good game”, may never happen again. Prevention of the COVID-19 virus will always be on the minds of players, coaches, and parents. Players riding on buses to games…sitting in the dugout next to each other….fans sitting in the bleachers shoulder to shoulder….will we see this again?
Packed crowds in sporting venues, at all levels, may be a huge consideration moving forward. As much as we love our sports in this country, will fans be too scared to go to a stadium of 80,000 to sit side-by-side to watch their favorite team? For that matter, will grandparents be willing at their ages to go to games and sit with others who may be carriers of the virus? And how will we know when it is really safe to do so….if it ever is. The Summer Olympic Games were postponed for the first time in its history. Does it make sense to send thousands of people from around the world to one place, and then send them back home all over the globe to potentially spread the virus? When will we ever know?
There are a lot of things I have seen across the span of my lifetime. Some of those events have made future events easily predictable. Events such as the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the terrorists attacks of 2001 on New York City, were both events that caused our nation to change forever. A piece of our innocence was lost on both days of those two tragic events. Students graduating this year are one of the last generations to ever know our country as it was before that fateful day on 9/11. And ironically, their graduation ceremonies are now threatened by the COVID-19 virus.
I think of our parents and grandparents, particularly those who are deceased, and I wonder if they would recognize our country today. Even diseases that threatened our country in the past, have started to make a resurgence. Vaccines that were labeled as miracle drugs when they were discovered, are now not being used by choice of some, and has caused a resurgence in diseases that again threatens the well-being of us all.
I love sports. They have been a central part of my entire life. But I have feared over several years that we have lost perspective with sports. We have overemphasized them to the point that they run our lives, and we can’t do without them. Some of us have let much more important aspects of our life go all for the good name of sports. So today, we are all forced to pause from our love of sports to consider and put into perspective things in our lives that are truly more important.
I miss going to the games. Seeing young people engaged in sports and doing something that is good and enjoyed by so many is a great thing, and I miss it terribly. I may be overreacting at this point, but I truly wonder if we will ever see sports return to the magnitude that it was not long ago. Certainly, the development of a vaccine that would protect our population against this dreaded virus could literally be a game changer. But for now, we have to wait and see.
I guess, for me, it is a time of reflection. A time to think back to what I may have truly taken for granted that sports would always be there to enjoy. And it may also be a time to put into perspective that perhaps I put too much value on sports, and our current events are a big wake up call to put my priorities back in line. The absence of sports will mean different things to different people. For me, it brings me back to the old adage that sports is a privilege, not an entitlement. It has been my privilege to witness many great athletes compete in sports. It has been my pleasure to know the many wonderful young people who have played the games. But it is telling me now that none of us were entitled to do so. It was our privilege to play and enjoy the sports we love.
Our nation needs to become one; one in prayerful resolve to defeat the virus, contain and prevent its reoccurrence, and do things for the mutual benefit of all of our people. I truly believe sports will return, but like the inconveniences we now endure at airports to protect ourselves against terrorism, I also believe that playing and watching sporting events will demand inconveniences that we will all have to get used to in the future. We cannot ignore advice that is meant for the overall public health to hold practices, games, proms, etc. This will be a test of our nation’s character, will, and love for each other.
God bless our nation.