Stripped of sports, we await their return

by Gary Shelton on March 13, 2020

in general

Friday, 4 a.m.

Bats do not crack. Balls do not bounce. Pucks do not slide.

The ballparks are closed now. The arenas, too. Sports have been effectively shut down by a growing horror called the Corona virus. And nothing sounds worse than the sound of no hands clapping.

It is only the sounds of seasons screeching to a halt that reminds us of just how dire this global disease is. It has humbled us, and it has taken many of our diversions away from us. '

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We embrace them, don't we? There are people who build their whole year around whether Florida beats Florida State. Their self-worth is defined by something as trivial as a recruiting battle, or the colors on the pennant outside of someone's home. We spend our lunches and our morning break times debating mundane things.

But look at us now.

The NHL has been shut down.

The NBA has been shut down.

Spring training baseball has been shut down, and Opening Day has been delayed.

South Florida will compete in sports with no fans watching.

The major conferences have all canceled their basketball tournaments. The NCAA has called off March Madness.

Major League Soccer has suspended its season.

NASCAR's next two races will be held without fans.

The Valspar golf tournament has been called off.

It isn't just sports. Disneyland has shut down. Broadway. Major music concerts are shutting down.

We have survived strikes. We have survived scabs. We have survived missing parts of seasons and full ones. We have survived gambling scandals and runaway steroids.

This is different. How do you blame a virus?

We do not know how long this interruption of our lives will take. We do not know how long it will be before we can switch on the television and lose ourselves in one of these games that are designed to take our minds off more serious, more worrisome matters.

By now, we are used to losing chunks of this season that one. The NHL missed a season in 2004-2005. We lost a baseball post-season a decade earlier. The NFL tried to pawn off "replacement games" in 1987.

But those weren't en masse as this is. That was just the greed of the owners against the greed of the players. We blamed the side we thought was more responsible, and eventually, we got over it.

This time, there is a helpless feeling. Think of all the strains of disease we have faced, and none of them have ever shut down sports this way. Deep down, we know this is right, and we know sports isn't nearly as important as life. But it still stings.

I remember 9-11, and the question of when players should return to play. I sided with the players -- they were as torn up as the rest of us. To spend a weekend playing a game seemed small.

So whatcan we do? We can survive. We can wait this thing out.

And when our diversions return?

We can appreciate them.

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