I’m not going to sit here and tell you that “everything is going to be OK.” Because, as my far-more-realistic wife often says to me, “You say that too often.”
So, I won’t.
I know coaches are at a loss right now, not knowing what to tell their teams — especially their seniors — about the coming weeks. About how they can’t practice together. Can’t learn together. Can’t charge out of dugouts and covered tents and minivans and buses and cheap buffets and McDonald’s lobbies together.
I know players — no, competitors, student-ATHLETES — are at a loss right now. In all of your preparation, your practice, your precision, your planning, never did you expect to be thwarted by a virus that shuts down all organized gatherings for the foreseeable future.
I know parents — coaches themselves in a way, and the ultimate comforters — are at a loss right now. How do you tell your child “it might be over,” and you can’t tell them how or why? How can you reasonably discuss fairness and opportunity, when both are removed by a sickness that cares for neither?
I know fans — fanatics, crazy yet beloved — are at a loss right now. The television is nothing but talk of the coronavirus. The newspaper is nothing but talk of the coronavirus. Facebook is nothing but talk of the coronavirus. Twitter is nothing but talk of the coronavirus. Churches, restaurants, shopping centers ... nothing but talk of the coronavirus. Sports are on standby, leaving fans — gripped with anticipation of a great season — idling in one miserable mode: depression.
I know sports reporters — writers and journalists first, who also just so happen to love “the great game” — are at a loss right now. I mean, we’re supposed to be in the middle of writing previews guiding us into June. Monday was supposed to be the start of high school baseball and softball seasons. Last week saw the beginning of track, tennis and KHSAA Sweet 16 hoops. After Al-pal (Al Willman, for the uninitiated) finished up his notes on the Marshall County Lady Marshals, I was supposed to bounce to Lex-vegas myself to see what the McCracken County Mustangs would do.
Now, people are already asking me: “What the heck are you supposed to do for the next six weeks?”
Well, I’ll tell you. I’ll be doing the same thing I’ve done for the last eight years: report the news. No news is still news. In fact, right now is the most important time for news. We need it more than ever.
Personally, I’ve received a handful of text messages in the last 72 hours that all contain the same two words:
Yeah, it really does. I can’t sugarcoat it. It’s necessary, but unfortunate. With spring sports dawning, winter sports waning, college basketball cresting into its ultimate moment and everything else in between, we — the fan, the player, the coach, the sportswriter — have seen our entire paradigm shift in an unforeseen way. After all, sports are supposed to be the ONE GREAT DISTRACTION that we all seem to have in common, regardless of socioeconomic, religious or political lines.
So, when we finally do return to some sports normalcy, here’s some things I’d like to see:
1) Lay off criticizing the refs. Seriously. Maybe a month (or more) away could do something for our attitudes toward officiating. Yeah, there’s been some bad calls. And yeah, I’ve commented about some of them on my social media.
But commenting about them, discussing them, even questioning and arguing them, is a far better decision than some of the blatant, obtuse and profound blurting I’ve seen over the last few months.
And, naturally, I haven’t seen it so much from the players as much as I’ve seen it from adults, who are typically looked to as leaders in tense, and perhaps objectionable, situations.
I get it. Calling out officiating is “part of the game.” Student sections screaming “BULL” and holding up cardboard signs of a cellphone with a “MISSED CALL” will forever make me laugh.
But we’ve toed and/or crossed the line too many times in the last few months, and it’s time to crank the knob back a level or two.
2) Enjoy the moment. 2020 has been a somber, painful reminder that time is of the essence. Things can stop when you least expect them to, for reasons you never knew, and with little regard to best-laid plans.
3) Donate all of your unused, massive stocks of toilet paper to nonprofit agencies, nursing homes and disaster relief units. Seriously, you really didn’t need that much, did you?
And 4) Cheer. For the love of God, cheer!
They say “no cheering in the press box,” but I think I’ll muster a “hurrah” or two when we resume.
Follow Ed Marlowe on Twitter @dreamarlowe85, call him (270) 575-8661, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.