If you read this section of our paper with any regularity, you’re a sports fan to some extent.
It might be as an avid fan, coach or player, or a parent who feels like they’ve watched more youth sports practices and games than they ever dreamed possible.
Regardless of your role, by now you are probably experiencing the same emotions as I am. What started out as sort of a “well this will be interesting” feeling of not having any live sports to watch either in person or on TV, has turned into an “I don’t like this at all” sort of mood.
Don’t get me wrong, I strongly feel every decision that has been made to suspend, postpone or cancel sports at all different levels has been the correct ones. After all, this is a pandemic, whereas sports is just … well – sports.
As much as I enjoyed watching the Sixers beat the Celtics on Monday night, I’ve never been a fan of watching games of which I know the outcomes. The basketball games my boys are playing with friends in the driveway just don’t compare to the local leagues and tournaments. And while the hiatus from youth sports was very much welcome for a family that rarely has a day off from them, we have to admit we now miss them after two weeks of them being shut down.
At first, this hiatus from normalcy reminded me of a snow day in the middle of the week. But with my unused snow shovel back in storage over the garage, the reality has set in that the major difference between a blizzard state of emergency and this current unprecedented one is that we don’t know when the latter will end. It feels sort of like a fog has set in.
Right now, even though the local colleges and universities have canceled their spring sports seasons, we still have a sliver of hope that the spring high school seasons will take place and our younger kids will play in their respective youth sports leagues, even if with adjusted schedules. But nobody can promise either right now, and if I was a betting man, my money would lean toward the unfortunate case of everything being canceled.
My selfish disappointment in not being able to follow March Madness or take my son to the Sixers game as planned for his birthday has been replaced by the reality that the only competitive games my boys might play in the near future will take place in my driveway and backyard.
Last Saturday at our house, after taking a bike ride around Lums Pond with one son, I watched the other host a pickup hoops game in the driveway. A handful of adults – fewer than the recommended max of 50 at the time – then gathered at a neighbor’s house in the evening while our boys and their friends played a variety of sports in the yard before wrapping up the night with a few rounds of manhunt. Other than not having to travel to any youth games, it felt like just another weekend in our neighborhood.
The lack of organized sports to watch in any way at any level right now perhaps has taught all of us a lesson that is often mentioned but really never been forced on us: There is more to life than sports.
As much as sports can consume us, unlike food, shelter and clothing, we really can survive without them. And in some cases – picture your entire family at the dinner table two nights in a row or huddled around a jigsaw puzzle or board game – we have to admit that in many ways our families are flourishing in the absence of sports.
There might not be a traditional March Madness “One Shining Moment” this year, but let’s all hope and pray that there will be a much more important one as it relates to the coronavirus. The moment when this pandemic situation ends and our lives go back to whatever we each define as normal will truly be this year’s shiniest moment. Until then, sports can wait.
Stay safe and be well.