Reflecting as the sports world takes a step back

I watched in amusement and slight awkwardness early Thursday afternoon as Creighton and St. John’s played in the first half of what was to be the first of four games in the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden.

As other conference tournaments canceled literally minutes before them in wake of the coronavirus, it seemed inevitable that the game wouldn’t finish. Sure enough, at halftime the conference followed suit with its counterparts, suspending play.

Later in the afternoon, the NCAA dropped the bombshell that all winter and spring championships have been canceled.

First and foremost, I’m gutted for these student-athletes who have worked so hard to get to this moment. It’s something that you don’t truly appreciate unless you’ve been a competitive athlete.

It’s about this time, also, that I realized just how big a part sports play in my daily life. Okay, let’s be honest, I already knew that, but it really hit me after these announcements, coupled with similar responses from the NHL and MLB. This came on the heels of the NBA suspending play Wednesday night after Utah Jazz All-Star Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus. And on a local level, the PIAA announced it postponed its basketball and swimming championships for at least two weeks. Unfortunately, there’s probably a good chance we don’t crown champions this season.

Selfishly, I’m disappointed. This is my favorite time of year in the sports calendar, as well it is for many others, I’m sure – March Madness, the NHL and NBA playoff chases heating up and the NFL free agency period, followed by the draft.

Admittedly, I’m someone who tends to not panic about much, so it’s been hard to digest all the fear mongering I’ve seen on social media recently. But the reality is this is all very real and has already affected a number of people’s lives.

I’m not an expert and not in charge of making decisions that are literally affecting not just millions in the United States, but around the world as well, so the reality is my opinion has no value. People much smarter than I am are making these decisions, and a large number of people besides just myself would do well to remember that.

The more I’ve thought about it, the more I firmly believe that it’s better to overreact than to do nothing. Is there a chance that we could have carried on with business as usual and not seen a crisis? Possibly. But what if that wasn’t the case? What if by carrying on like we always do, we opened ourselves up to an even bigger crisis that could have been avoided by merely taking a step back.

Let’s listen to the real medical experts, not the ones on social media, and just take a deep breath. That’s what the leaders in the sports world have decided to do, and we’re all going to be better off for it. They have made the right decisions.

I hope that we get to crown a champion in some of these sports this year. But if we don’t, if our lives are mildly inconvenienced for the safety of everyone, it’s a very small price to pay.

And maybe I’ll find some new hobbies!


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