Saturday, July 11, 2020

Column: March Sadness, it's OK to feel angry as sports get put on hold

March 12, 2020
<p>Senior forward Kyle Ahrens is subbed out on his senior day against Ohio State. The Spartans defeated the Buckeyes, 80-69, on March 8, 2020 at the Breslin Student Events Center.</p>

Senior forward Kyle Ahrens is subbed out on his senior day against Ohio State. The Spartans defeated the Buckeyes, 80-69, on March 8, 2020 at the Breslin Student Events Center.

Photo by Matt Zubik | The State News

I attended my Literature and Society class via Zoom video conferencing today. 

We spent most of the class discussing the COVID-19 outbreak and our feelings about it. My professor told us we were saving lives by staying home and avoiding interaction with large groups of people. 

It was a statement that should have made me feel satisfied with MSU’s transition to online classes. I should have felt at ease about the cancellation of the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments since these decisions are helping halt an outbreak that has hindered the lives of so many across the world.

But instead, I felt mad.

I’m not one to worry. Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak I’ve kept a “I’ll be fine, life will go on” outlook. When my classes were transitioned to online, I’ll be the first to admit I did not lock myself in my room and self-quarantine drowning in concern and fright.

I’ve found myself struggling to get out of selfish thoughts, which is why I write this for others who may feel this way, hoping that maybe it's not just me.

I’m still not worried. Instead, I’m filled with selfish frustration and anger, and now a growing sadness, about my life feeling as though it has been put to a complete stop. 

I woke up today, less than 24 hours before I had planned on traveling to Indianapolis, to an email from the Big Ten Conference, announcing the cancellation of their tournament. And finally, at 4:16 p.m. sitting in my room refreshing my Twitter feed every second for new updates, the NCAA released their statement on cancelling their tournament. 

I’m mad that the work I put in as men’s basketball beat reporter this semester won’t end with a once in a lifetime experience to travel to and report on the Big Dance. With every night I spent up until 3 a.m. writing on the team, with every social event I sacrificed to better my reporting I always went to bed thinking “this will all be worth it in March” and now that feeling is gone.

I would daydream in class about the places I would see and the thrill I would feel during each NCAA tournament game. It was a time I had looked forward to since November, one I would constantly count down the days to and talk about so much to my friends and family I could tell sometimes they would get sick of me.

It’s selfish, I know, to feel this way. The fact that this virus is affecting sports the way it is, cancelling the events people turn to when everything else in the world seems to be going wrong, is perhaps one of the most newsworthy things to ever happen during March Madness, but I can’t help but feel upset.

I hurt for the athletes, who I’ve talked to and gotten to know throughout this season, that they don’t get a final trip through March.

I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that last Sunday was the last time I would have watched MSU’s 2020 squad take the floor together. The last time I would watch Cassius Winston throw a perfect lob to Xavier Tillman. The last time I would enter the locker room after the game with a notepad full of questions so many other people would never get to ask.

I know there are worse things. If this is the worst thing to ever happen in my life, I’ll be pretty lucky, but for now I’m angry, I’m upset and I’m frustrated. But while writing this, I’ve realized that that is OK. 

It’s okay to be frustrated. Sports are supposed to bring us light in times like this, they always have. Now that pro and college leagues have cancelled all sporting events, what do we turn to now?

But if I reflect back on my coverage this season, I have to realize that my work was worth it. It's a reflection I need more time to process and will probably write something else on in the future, but overall, I grew as a reporter. I built a foundation that I am proud of, and I’m excited to expand on my next two years here at MSU.

It might not be sports for everyone, but the coronavirus has changed some aspect of every person's life over the past week. For me, it was my job as beat reporter ending almost a month earlier than I had expected it to end, but regardless, many of those changes have hit instantaneously, with no prior warning or preparation and for that reason, it is OK to be angry.

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