Locker Room: What could have been?

Locker Room: What could have been?

There is no answer to the above headline. We have no way of knowing what would have been. And at every level of sport, for the immediate future at least, we’ll never know. We should all just hope that it doesn’t last longer than we fear it already might.

Much has been lost in the world of sport and we all now have evidence of how much sport means to the normal day in the life of America. If you don’t play sports, businesses suddenly become in serious financial peril, jobs are lost, tickets aren’t sold, the hotels are empty, and so are the restaurants. Just take a 30-minute ride around Pulaski County. We are a rural area. Thankfully, ours is a simple life, and I wouldn’t want it any other way, but there is a quietness, a stillness, traffic seems to be down maybe more than 50%, parking lots at all sorts of stores are empty. There is little movement. Activity has slowed to a crawl. And now restrictions are becoming tighter. You can’t take the wife out to eat. We are apparently up against an helluva opponent.

And it’s not a ball game, you can’t compete with a virus, a new one. There is no ball to hit, throw, or bounce. It came from another country, like almost all viruses have entered this country in my lifetime, but since I’m 72, they say I need to be extra careful. Maybe so, but it’s hard. It’s also boring. There is no vacation or weekend paradise right now, they are all virtually closed down, and all feeling a huge financial strain.

Much has already been lost. How much more will be lost? You hear a lot of chatter about the big stuff, but the loss goes much deeper. A senior has a broken heart when it’s found out they can’t compete in the NCAA Basketball Tournament. No “March Madness.” And the loss of that event means millions of lost dollars and has great effect on the lives of millions of people. But is the broken heart of a college athlete who finds out he can’t compete for all that he has worked for any different from the broken heart of a high school kid who finds out he or she cannot compete for a state championship? No, it’s not. It’s all the same. One obviously affects a lot more people, but the individual hurt is no different.

The loss is huge. No NCAA for men or women, baseball has been pushed back, the green will not fly at the race track, no Masters golf tourney, no spring sports in college, or likely high school, spring football is all but cancelled, the VHSL has declared co-champs in all classifications. That’s about all it could do, but that’s hollow. It’s just not the same as actually winning it. All professional sports are down, even the NFL Draft has been delayed, and there is little to bet on in Vegas.

And what happens if it lasts through next football season? How about some of the best and most successful athletic programs in the nation going bankrupt? It would be catastrophic to collegiate sport. And how about Pulaski County High School’s athletic fund being empty. Again, the hurt is the same. Everything has either been cancelled or put on hold until mid-April, but nobody hesitates when asked if that is a soft date. A lot of people have asked, do we keep playing ball? No, you don’t. If school is cancelled, it’s all cancelled. Did you play baseball when you were a senior in high school? How would you have felt if they cancelled your final season and there can be no alternative plan. It’s tough.

And we’ll never know what we missed. Could UVa have defended its national title? Probably not, but the Cavaliers certainly would have liked to try. Which ACC team would have had the most impact, Florida State, Louisville, or Duke? Carolina I guess gets a reprieve of sorts. After being in the tournament forever it seems, the Tar Heels were about to stay home and lose the streak, but it stays alive. Carolina is missing nothing.

Kansas would have been the favorite which in some ways is disappointing for the game of basketball. The Jayhawks are on NCAA probation and still under FBI investigation. Bill Self is unquestionably one of the finest coaches in the game, and may have won his second national championship, but when all is done, some think he could lose his job.

And remember when Butler had one final shot and it rimmed out against Duke. Maybe this was the year it wasn’t going to, maybe this was the year Creighton, Dayton, Seton Hall, or San Diego State was going to win. All season it seemed like this might be the year a “blue blood” didn’t win. We’ll never know.

Absolutely it’s boring, but necessary and boring right now is likely a good thing. Good luck to all of us. But remember, we are The United States, and we will conquer this. We will not lose this game. We will not fail.

And just maybe we can use our past to bring up some things that suddenly might not seem like a bad idea. You’ve got some time now. Write a letter on paper with a pen or pencil to an old friend. Learn to cook or teach your children how to cook. Do like I do, watch some old western movies, John Wayne and Robert Mitchem never disappoint. Do some things around the house you’ve been putting off because you always had a game to watch. No excuse now. Read a book, a good book. Read a book about the real history of this nation, and how we happened. Get the family together and play a game of Monopoly. It used to be fun. It still is today if you give it a chance. Turn off the video game and get to know each other. Take the advice the doctors are providing. Be careful, but don’t stop living. Try to get something positive out of the extra time.

When things return to normal, and they will, we’ll all hook up again, and likely appreciate each other more. Just take care of yourself, and if you know of somebody that needs help taking care of themselves, go do that too. God Bless us all.