As published in The County Times (countytimes.somd.com) March 2020
By Ronald N. Guy Jr.
It has been just over three weeks – three very slow weeks - since the NBA cancelled a game between the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets, a decision that triggered the rapid shuddering of the sports world.
Baseball’s opening day was scheduled for March 26; it was to be the first since 1925 with the Washington D.C. team as the reigning World Series champions.
April 4 was the Capitals’ scheduled regular season finale. Was another Stanley Cup possible had the season not been put on…errr…ice?
The Final Four for the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments would have been played this weekend. Would both Terrapins teams have been participants?
Questions that will forever lack answers.
Instead of March Madness buzzer-beaters, welcoming back baseball and preparing for the Stanley Cup playoffs, sports fans have been left with various retro-programming and riveting social media posts of athletes doing golf trick shots, hitting merciless backyard home runs off their kids using Little Tikes gear and claiming to be staying in shape – yeah…aren’t we all - with questionable workout videos.
It’s cute. Funny at times. And yet so inadequate.
The NFL is oddly continuing to operate largely as if COVID-19 is, in fact, a hoax or something a miracle will sweep away at any moment, as some have suggested. The football news is welcomed but the optic of multi-million dollar free agent contracts being handed out while millions file for unemployment and worry about complete economic upheaval is…interesting. It gets weirder. Commissioner Roger Goodell recently affirmed that the April 23-25 NFL Draft, a time when the difficult realities of COVID-19 spread will almost certainly be far worse than today, will proceed (in some alternate form) as scheduled. Goodell followed up with teams – many of whom had expressed their displeasure to the league office – by issuing a memo that warned them to refrain from discussing (read: criticizing) the decision or risk disciplinary action. I’ll stop there, lest Goodell extend his tyranny to neighborhood sportswriters.
Needless to say, these are unprecedented times. Many things are missed. Many things will be experienced with far greater gratitude when this ends - whenever we arrive in that seemingly far off realm. For the foreseeable future, life will march on without athletic competition. That makes me want to direct very vulgar language that my mom would be ashamed of at this damn virus. What I wouldn’t give to resume watching Alexander Ovechkin’s assault on the NHL’s goals scored list. Or to stand and applaud – and probably cry…again – as our World Series champion Nats took to the diamond. Or to lament my busted March Madness bracket and await the crowning of the 2020 champs. Or to wonder if Tiger Woods could make magic again at The Masters. Or…
I can almost develop a bit of a victim complex. But then I watch the news or follow Twitter or just reset my brain and sit in quiet reflection like Pooh Bear in his thoughtful – or thotful, per his sign - spot with a jar full of honey. Oh the thinks you can think when you think about Seuss…and the real victims and the real tragedy and the enormity of this shared crisis.
Those more thoughtful thinks go immediately to those around the world who have lost their lives to this sinister virus and those fighting it – both the ill and the heroic medical professionals who bravely stare down this enemy daily, often without adequate equipment for biological war. After that, my thinks go to those whose jobs have been lost or whose livelihoods are threatened. Then my thinks consider those in high risk categories and the anxiety sowed by the consequences of contracting an invisible threat that could hide anywhere.
Somewhere way down the list of thinks, I eventually get to sports and lament the absence of the games we love. But it hardly matters at that point, not with a raw, sobering social perspective. I just want to turn on the television and see a game again, not because I miss sports, but because it will mean we have started to heal and life is returning to something near normal.