Saturday, November 26, 2022

Column: The COVID-19 crisis will be the first time sports cannot be an avenue for solace

March 12, 2020
<p>Sparty stands in the tunnel before the game against Illinois on Nov. 9, 2019, at Spartan Stadium.</p>

Sparty stands in the tunnel before the game against Illinois on Nov. 9, 2019, at Spartan Stadium.

Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

There’s only one word that can describe what's going on in our world: bizarre. 

COVID-19 has officially taken a stranglehold of our country and the world in a way we have not seen since 9/11. One of the main differences between this pandemic and some of the eyes glued to the television type of events is that this affects literally everything you can think of. Even the bar lines at Harper’s and Rick’s have seen dramatic changes.

So naturally, the first thing I think of is sports. 

I understand that for the people who aren’t thinking of sports every waking moment of their life that this might seem short-sighted or the least of our problems in the light of a global pandemic, but the canceling of athletic events means much more than just a form of entertainment like Coachella or Greek Week at MSU.

Sports in the time of crisis have been the way for people across the globe to find solace. Take a look back to 9/11, one of the largest crises the U.S. has faced along with what is occurring now. After the attacks, all sports leagues from Major League Baseball to the NCAA postponed or canceled some of its games in the days on and the days following the attacks.

Six weeks after the attacks, the New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks took the field for game three of the World Series. Former President George W. Bush took the field and threw one of the best first pitches of all time, putting to bed the fear Americans had over the 9/11 crisis. 

On April 15, 2013, two bombs were detonated on the sidewalk of the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring hundreds. For four days, a manhunt ensued searching for the two men responsible for attacks, practically putting the entire city of Boston on lockdown.

The day after they were apprehended, David Ortiz spoke to the fans at Fenway and exclaimed, “This is our f------ city!” filling the city of Boston with pride, and the ability to bounce back after such a terrifying moment in their history.

It extends beyond terrorist events as well. Natural disasters have made people in the United States turn to sports to look for solace. The New Orleans Saints and the Houston Astros during Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Harvey were two teams that were a way for people to put aside their concerns for a few hours, and enjoy the moment.

As I write this, conference tournaments have been canceled, and the NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS have all began to postpone their seasons until further notice due to COVID-19. As of now, the NCAA tournament is still on, but it seems as if it is only a matter of time before it is canceled along with just about every aspect of sports being shut down for the time being.

This crisis is incredibly unique in our history because for the first time in recent memory, sports will not go on when some people need the escape most. We won’t have a sports icon or moment to calm us down and get our mind off of a crisis. 

So what do we do now?

First, take the proper precautions for yourself and your loved ones. I am not a doctor nor an expert on these matters, so turn to the people who are, stay informed and make the decisions that are right for you and your family.

Second, do not be upset with officials that are canceling our beloved events. They don’t want to do this either, and they would not do it if it was not the best for the health of our community.

Lastly, find a new way to find solace. For me, that involves me being back home on the farm taking care of our small cattle operation and to pop NCAA Football in the Xbox when I have time outside of work and school. Find what works for you since sports cannot be that avenue that it has been for all of us in the past.

This column isn’t meant to scare you or to tell you that because sports is canceled the world is ending, but rather to show how remarkable of a moment this is for the world. This is a crisis that does not discriminate. It does not choose to affect someone based on their race, gender or hobbies. It affects us all. 

In this time, in addition to taking the proper precautions, it is important to realize that this crisis is more important than sports or politics, and that we take care of ourselves.

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