The void of a sport-less world
There's a single, five-letter word that sticks in my mind as this unprecedented event that is COVID-19 shocks the sports world: empty.
Sports have always been an escape from the real world. When things are tough, you have your favorite team or player to root on and forget about the rest of the world for a few hours. Or you have the game you love to distract you from your everyday life. Or you have your son or daughter's game to watch. Sports are always there.
Except this time, they're not.
It started with the NBA, with the shocking news that Utah Jazz all-star Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. Within minutes, the NBA made the correct, and difficult, decision to suspend its season "indefinitely."
In the whirlwind since, two other players — Gobert's Jazz teammate Donovan Mitchell and Detroit's Christian Wood — have also tested positive.
Every major sport in the country would follow suit very soon thereafter, either canceling events all together or leaving no real timeline of when play will return.
We have seen it here locally, too. Special seasons have been put on hold. Teams with championship aspirations are unsure if they'll get the opportunity they have earned to compete for that trophy they covet. Other student athletes are left to wonder when, and if, they'll be able to play their spring sports this year.
As of now, New York state, at least Section II, have postponed practice and games until April 19 and in Vermont, the schools were closed on Sunday by Governor Phil Scott and will be out until April 6. In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker announced on Sunday that schools would be closed until April 7.
It's something sports fans and athletes alike have never experienced before. The emptiness extends beyond the long list of cancellations and suspensions of play. It feels so empty because we don't know when things will get back to normal. Will it be a week? A month? An entire season before we get our beloved sports schedule back to normal? Nobody has the answers at this time, and honestly, that's OK.
Emptiness is an appropriate feeling at this time. Something that we are passionate about has been taken away from us. As a community, and as a country, we will get past the coronavirus. As important as sports are to us, the safety of everyone comes first.
COVID-19 has forced sports to align with the real-world in a way that hasn't been seen before. The dedication of athlete and coaches and the passion from fans will be as strong as ever when the sports world returns to normal, whenever that may be.
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