A historic time in American sports
Sports are canceled.
It began Wednesday evening when the NBA decided to suspend the season upon learning that members of the Utah Jazz were potentially infected with the COVID-19 virus that has put the entire globe on high alert. College athletics, including the prized March Madness tournament and College World Series, came next. The NHL, soccer, PGA Tour events (including The Masters), tennis … all canceled. Local schools and Little League fields have shuttered.
It’s an interesting moment where sports are being put in its proper place of insignificance against things such as public health but also showing great leadership in dealing with a very challenging event that is impacting every area of American life. The decisive action of the NBA to suspend its season moments after a player possibly became infected gave confidence to the other sports leagues (and perhaps other institutions) to make similar moves.
Potentially millions of Americans weren’t paying much attention to the COVID-19 virus until the news that the NBA was suspending its season hit their phones and television screens. Commissioner Adam Silver, at least in part, pushed our entire society into swift action with respect to the spreading virus.
Is it an overreaction? Like anything in today’s world, it appears that much of the public is polarized between those who view this all as an overreaction and those hoarding toilet paper.
But these kinds of events are often a push and pull between under-reaction and overreaction, and when it comes to public health, overreaction is probably the more prudent course of action. While it’s extremely disappointing to miss out on March Madness — an event that garners the entire nation’s attention for a few weeks every year unlike any other sporting event — life will continue.
So what’s next? Well, if you must fill the entertainment void, be thankful that you live during a time where the sheer volume of at-home entertainment options is larger than any other time in history. Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime offer thousands upon thousands of viewing options and that doesn’t include the billions of hours of randomness at places like YouTube.
Others will perhaps look at this time with no sports to watch as a time when life slows down. Perhaps it’s an opportunity to detox a bit from our ubiquitous screens. With our kids home from school for upcoming spring break and possibly additional weeks after due to school closures, I instructed them to write up a list of backyard activities they can do outside during this quasi-quarantine time period. The resulting list included things like camping, trampoline, build a fort and playing catch. Hey, that sounds like my childhood!
Sports will come back, as well the rest of what we know of as American life. But maybe this hiatus will lead to a greater appreciation of those things when they do return. The idea of missing a season of college football was unfathomable just weeks ago. But now? When college football (hopefully) arrives this fall? How exciting will that be?
In the meantime, wash your hands, look out for each other and take a break from Twitter arguments. Hopefully the public health crisis that sparked these events turns out to be less serious than thought, and if that happens, consider resorting to thankfulness rather than pointing fingers at leaders and officials that potentially overreacted.