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Chris Gilbert

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The Sky Has Fallen!! Sports Has Stopped

So Wednesday, when I got home from work, I turned on ESPN and learned that the NCAA basketball tournament was going to played in empty arenas due to the potential spread of coronavirus. For reasons I’ll explain in a moment, I was fired up, angry, and yelling at the TV. I calmed down, took, a nap, woke up two hours later, and the NBA season had been suspended. Fast forward another 18 hours or so, and all sports are gone. What the?

The five days that have passed since then seem like forever ago. The world has changed in the blink of an eye. Not only is March Madness, the NBA, NHL, XFL, and English Premiere League soccer been halted, but Spring Training, the Masters, and MLS have been postponed. NASCAR and the Mexican soccer league are running in buildings with no fans, and those are about the only sporting events in the world that are still going on.

But life without sports is already yesterday’s news. Schools are closed, concerts are canceled, charity fundraisers aren’t happening, bars are closing, and restaurants and theaters are likely next. Can’t have more than 250 people in one place, and now all of a sudden it’s ten. Everybody has to stay six feet part. It’s like being at the eighth grade dance all over again. Social distancing, they call it. Who knew that would become a skill?

For the next few days anyway, and with news changing so rapidly, sports are definitely an afterthought. Have you gone to the supermarket in the last couple of days? Yeah, you and everybody else. I stopped at the store today and all the carts were gone. I went inside and all the check stands had lines. Not real long ones, but all the checkout lines were open, and were about three to four people deep. I left, but people are stocking up on everything, because they don’t know they won’t be allowed to do next. My young cousin Felicia was supposed to have the wedding of her dreams next weekend. The venue canceled. The gathering was under 250 people, but they weren’t going to be six feet apart. Cautious, confusing, and now sad.

Way back on Wednesday when it was announced that the NCAA Basketball Tournament was going to be played, but in empty arenas, the coronavirus ‘concerns’ seemed like hypocrisy to me. They wanted to ‘protect’ the public from the spread of disease, but still wanted their precious television revenue. What are a few thousand fans in the stands compared to the millions that would be watching on TV? And, what I found myself yelling at the television like a lunatic, was “what if the players get sick?”

After I woke up from my little snooze, I think I saw it on my phone before I turned on the TV. Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz had tested positive for coronavirus. His teammate Donovan Mitchell would be confirmed later. I just woke up from my nap, but the sports world woke up, too. Everything changed immediately. Gobert might be the Mike Fiers of coronavirus and sports. Without Gobert getting sick, sports leagues would still be making millions playing in front of no fans while hot dog vendors, ticket takers, and parking attendants went unemployed. Without Fiers, no one would be booing the Houston Astros, even though they still won’t be booing them in ball parks for the next several weeks.

It’ll probably take a week or two to get our heads wrapped around this social distancing lifestyle. Some of us are being asked to stay home and ‘self isolate’, but the rest of us might as well do the same thing. No school, no crowds, soon no restaurants or theaters, and nothing else. Then, when you stay home, no sports, and television shows have stopped taping. Of course, there’s that one TV series that you wanted to see but didn’t. Now you can binge-watch. It’s either Netflix, Youtube, or board games.

My cousin Felicia is still getting married next weekend. It’s going to be a small, private ceremony at home (less than ten people all six feet apart? Ehhh..). Sports will resume eventually (baseball has now canceled the first eight weeks of the season instead of two), and maybe the kids will get to go back to school (just in time for summer vacation instead of spring break). We’re being told that taking these steps will save thousands of lives, and so far we are choosing to believe that our health experts are right. Quoting the title of the USC fight song (yipes!), Fight On.

What’s on TV?: CBS was supposed to be showing the Big 10 conference tournament this weekend, but after the cancellation, they ended up showing last year’s title game on Saturday, and the 2018 game on Sunday. Not having access to that high level meeting, I’m guessing the other choices would have been informercials like ‘Buns of Steel’ or Jim Nantz and Tony Romo doing a Dallas Cowboys game. The 1985 Villanova-Georgetown NCAA title game or the 1983 Houston-North Carolina State championship would have been nice… What’s worse than this year’s golf? Last year’s golf. That’s what NBC ran instead of The Players Championship… Are you old enough to remember ESPN in its infancy? They should bring back Australian Rules Football, PKA Full-Contact Karate, and Billiards. I learned how to play 9-ball from ESPN, and almost figured out the Aussie rules, too.

Might as well: I’m in two fantasy baseball leagues. One is online and the other is with a small group of friends. We held our in-person draft at a pizza place on Saturday. There were only five of us in attendance, and we sat as far away from each other as possible (it’s better that way anyway). My online draft is this coming Sunday. While, it;s looking more like Memorial Day before baseball will start now, these drafts are looking like exercises in futility. It’s still better than watching that stupid King of Queens episode for the fifth time.

From the Twitterverse: From ‘JR’ Saturday; “Day 2 without sports: Found a young lady sitting on my couch yesterday. Apparently she’s my wife. She seems nice.”

Bark, uh, I mean tweet, of the year: From @DiageoLiam, who turns out to be Liam Hackett, the CEO of ‘Ditch the Label’, which is an anti-bullying organization; “The World Health Organization has announced that dogs cannot contract Covid-19. Dogs previously held in quarantine can now be released. To be clear, WHO let the dogs out.”

–gf

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