During some of our darkest times, the moments and periods of sorrow and despair, sports have always been a crutch, whether locally, nationally or internationally.
Very few of our local athletes, if any of them, were born before the tragedy of September 11, 2001, and none of them are old enough to remember the awfulness of that day. I was in fourth grade when it happened. I'm 10 years plus ordered than they are, and I barely remember.
Hall of Famer Derek Jeter became even more immortalized by becoming Mr. November in the 2001 World Series. That iconic first pitch right down the middle from then-President George Bush is something that still gives me chills to this day.
The NFL rallied with paid patriotism, but there’s no doubt football officially became America’s 21st century pastime in the weeks after the tragedy.
Sports have always had a way of bringing out raw emotion, but always brought together this country is times of tragedy and fear.
9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing immediately sprung to mind.
And now, they're gone.
As we become locked in our homes in what is the scariest time in about 20 years, maybe longer, millions of us would love the distraction of sports right now, perhaps more than ever.
But the potential-turned-certainty of the COVID-19 outbreak has taken away all of society’s crutches for the time being, with sports headlining that list. The NBA’s suspension of their season kickstarted American initiative to take this thing seriously, and fans can take some solace in that, but that doesn’t negate the fact we’re in a sports-less society at the moment.
Not only are we without sports, we’re without several other crutches. Live music is on hold. Art galleries, movie theaters, live theatre, bowling alleys, fitness centers. All calm before what many say could be the nastiest storm to hit our health system in a century.
Current crisis aside, America seemingly is more divided and fragmented than it has been since the Civil Rights era. As the moments turn to days, which soon will turn to weeks and then months, we’ll have to find something to unite and connect us, even if to just feel normal again.
I write this through the lens of finding something other than sports because I write about them, and you will find this in the sports section. But as I mentioned, it’s not the only thing that we’re currently without. It’s all gone, painfully stripped when we most need it.
And this doesn’t just go for the professional and college games. Obviously, those are bigger points of connection for more people, but it’s just surreal to think the high school sports season is just as silent.
Now spring sports are up in the air. As of right now, play is set to resume on April 11, but who knows. The OHSAA released a statement saying that there will be a press conference at noon on Thursday regrading the continuation of winter tournaments and new updates regarding spring sports.
I can’t even comprehend how much heartbreak that is causing our athletes. It certainly is going to make for a weird time for myself and all other sportswriters around Ohio, but we’ll make do.
What’s even more uncertain: What will we find to rally around together this time? I’m not really sure, but I am certain we will find something.
We have to.