My life revolves around sports — literally.
I’m not just a typical fan; my work is sports. I come to my job every day and write about sports and think about sports and cover sports. I go home and I look at updates from professional leagues and college teams alike.
My Sundays in the fall are spent watching football; most weeknights for several months involve checking hockey scores.
I couldn’t even tell you the last time I spent a Friday night in the fall not on a football field — except that time my former sports editor told me I had to stay home because I was diagnosed with bronchitis on a Friday morning.
Sports are what make me tick; they’re also what pay my bills.
With the current scare revolving around the coronavirus, the sports world seems to be crumbling.
It also shows just how much power sports have in our society. President Donald Trump banned travel from Europe, and it was a blip on the radar. But when the NBA suspended its season indefinitely Wednesday night, the radar basically broke.
Then everything followed suit. The MLB has called off operations; the NHL likewise suspended its season. Several pre-draft NFL events have been postponed.
Universities aren’t playing games. The conference championship tournaments for men’s basketball were canceled. Then down went March Madness — along with the NCAA making a decision to cancel spring championships as well.
Most of the major college conferences have suspended their spring sports until further notice, if not cancelled them completely, and it seems like only a matter of time before high school sports will fall.
And I get it. It’s important to take precautions — wash your hands, eat your vitamins, don’t gather in large groups unless necessary — but I can’t help but think there’s a whole lot of fear involved here that may cause bigger problems than we can handle.
Sure, it’s great in theory to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus but these lengths seem too extreme. People are being put out of jobs left and right. Sure, the NBA and NHL players can make it a few weeks without their salaries, but can the janitors and concession stand workers and parking guys? Can the cameramen and people who run the lights at stadiums and security guards?
Yes, we have a pandemic on our hands but by shutting the entire sports world down — and obviously it goes beyond sports — we could be creating a nationwide or even worldwide economic crisis from which we can’t recover.
At least one high school athletic association has postponed its spring sports as of Thursday afternoon, and I imagine the AHSAA and others will follow suit. Then I, selfishly, worry about my own economic standing. I’m comfortable certainly but definitely not rich, and without high school sports, what will I put in the paper? Will my company deem my job unnecessary for the time being?
I, like so many other Americans and people around the world, can’t survive indefinitely without an income.
But I’ve always been taught to never live my life in fear. As my dad has always pointed out when national scares like this happen, you’re much more likely to die in a fatal car accident today than get the coronavirus, much less die from it.
So whatever happens happens; that’s always been my motto.
But the quick disappearance of sports is hard to handle, even if it is ultimately the best decision. For a lot of people, sports are an escape. Like I’ve said on these pages before, football fields are my sanctuary; my problems seem to slip away when I’m in a basketball gym; and I don’t have to worry about anything but what’s in front of me when I’m on the diamond.
Many people don’t devote their life to sports quite like I do, but they still mean something. Athletes are role models for kids; coaches are teachers for their players; and the competitive spirit is an outlet for many. I don’t know what I’ll do without high school sports — even if it is for just a limited time.
I pray for a quick resolution to this awful virus and a quick return of the games I love so much. I also pray officials are making the right decisions because millions of lives — so many more than just the ones affected by the actual virus — are being turned upside down.
Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor of The Outlook.