Recently, the entire world has been rocked to the core by the Coronavirus pandemic. Every facet of our lives has been affected. Can we go to the mall? Should we visit that relative in Florida on Spring Break? Surely these Beyonce’ concert tickets aren’t going to go to waste? Do we have to cancel our anniversary cruise?
A lot has been taken away or is in question right now, but the major shoe dropped last week as the one thing that generally has the power to unite us all – Sports – was taken away.
When the major sports leagues as well as collegiate athletics announced they would be on hiatus for the unforeseeable future, most sports fans around the country found themselves in disbelief.
That’s right. The NBA, MLB, ATP tour, PGA, MLS, XFL, NASCAR – all gone. Of the Big 4 American sports (football, baseball, basketball, hockey) the NHL is the only one not to suspend or cancel games, but hockey officials are consulting with medical professionals as they evaluate their options moving forward.
Collegiately, the madness this March will not be the billion dollar event known as the Men’s Division I NCAA Basketball Tournament, but the race to ensure that the more than 460,000 student athletes are protected from COVID – 19. The NCAA has canceled the remaining winter championships and most conferences have suspended all spring sports indefinitely.
So now, for most sports fans around the globe, the question remains: “What will we do without sports?”
Sports is a big part of my life and anyone who knows me knows that. I played tennis in high school and in college. I’ve coached football, tennis and basketball and for the past two decades have made a living writing about sports. So believe me, I understand how important sports are and just how the sports fan feels.
But guess what? I also know that we can survive without sports for a little while. That may come as a shock to some to hear me say that, but it’s true. While sports are very important for a large portion of society, they’re just a part of what should be a well-rounded and balanced life.
Recently, some personal tragedies have happened to some very important people in my life. When talking with a family member about it, she reminded me that when things happen, there’s a message that can be learned and it’s up to us to figure out just what lesson God is trying to teach us.
So instead of bemoan the fact that I won’t be able to watch my Duke Blue Devils capture another men’s basketball championship, witness LeBron and the L.A. Lakers storm their way to the NBA title, or possibly miss seeing Serena Williams resume her quest for that illustrious 24th major title, I instead choose to take the absence of sports as a time to concentrate on what’s really important.
We are fast becoming a society that doesn’t relish making personal connections anymore. Everyone is so caught up in the “rat race” that we rarely take the time to stop and smell the roses, to cherish the things that really matter to really LIVE.
Without the games to distract us, maybe more families will have time for “game night” to see who can reign supreme in Monopoly, Jenga, Hungry-Hungry Hippos or Scrabble. That book that’s been collecting dust on your bookshelf? Now’s a good time to delve into it. Always wanted to watch The Blacklist, but thought you were too far behind to start watching now? Let the binge-watching session begin.
On a deeper level, while this virus has taken away some forms of entertainment (I’ll just have to wait a little longer for A Quiet Place II and Fast & Furious 9) it should make us think about all the little things we often take for granted. A handshake, a kiss, a hug or pat on the back. When was the last time you hugged someone you cared about? Such a small gesture, we really think nothing of, right? Now that it’s been taken away, so to speak, maybe the next time you hug someone, you’ll make it count.
There are so many countless things that can be achieved in this absence of sports. It’s like the old saying, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!” So let’s not view this lack of sports as a negative. Don’t worry, they’ll return and I’m sure we’ll once again become immersed in them.
But when we do, I just hope that we take with us the lessons this episode is trying to teach us. While sports are a great source of entertainment and often times a much-needed distraction from the world around us, they are not and should not be our entire world.