The day sports returns – “Wild and Wylie”
2020 has been the strangest year to be involved in sports coverage. The entire sporting world crashed to a halt. As a journalist, that leaves me with lots of questions, not the least of which is: what’s next?
The absence of sports leaves an unexpected hole in the lives of sports fans. At first, it may be hard to understand why. Sports, at their core, are just athletes we have probably never met, playing games with little to no real significance in the world — especially when compared to the horrors and challenges of a global pandemic.
I did not expect to miss sports as much as I do. People talk about how you never truly understand something until it is taken away, and for many athletes, journalists and fans, this break has been a time to reflect on these games we love, and more importantly, why we love them.
Our lives revolve around traditions. For the religious, church is a weekly tradition, a time to gather and worship. For those with deep family roots, Christmas and Thanksgiving are times of traditions, doing the same things with the same people at the same times. Birthdays and anniversaries are yearly traditions, reminding us of the passage of time.
That’s why we love sports. Because they are traditions too.
For sports fans, the events on the calendars we long for and enjoy remind us of the passage of time. They are the certainty to our lives, those annual events we know will always be there for us. They give us opportunities to reflect, gather ourselves, and then look forward.
And for the first time in our lives, those certainties are no longer certain. Those dates and events that mark the passing of time are no longer a guaranteed part of our reality.
March Madness did not give us those thrilling moments this year, the reminder of the pure joys of college, the celebrations of amateurism and passion where athletes use sports to fulfill their wildest dreams.
The MLB’s Opening Day did not bring the anticipation of spring, warmer weather and days outside in the sun. April is the time where all 30 fan bases of baseball teams believe “This might be our year,” before, inevitably, half of them are eliminated from the playoffs in early August.
The Masters — a tradition unlike any other — did not display the beauty of Augusta, Georgia, seeing Jack Nicholas and Arnold Palmer, legends of the game, starting the tournament from the first tee, as current stars like Tiger Woods chase the legacy in their shadows.
From there, the sports calendar goes on seemingly forever, from the NBA Finals in June to the start of football in August. Thanksgiving and the NFL, Christmas and the NBA, New Years and Bowl Games.
After that, the Super Bowl — and the cycle starts all over again.
No one knows when a return to normalcy will be possible, let alone likely. With doctors, politicians, athletes and executives all involved in the decision-making process, it could be months, if not a year before the sports calendar returns.
The importance of sport as tradition is as integral to America as America itself. It shines through in the moments when America is most in need of a distraction, a return to normalcy. It highlights the American ability to heal, to restore and rebuild, to overcome and endure.
Sports stood like a lighthouse when President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch in the World Series after 9/11, and when David Ortiz addressed the city of Boston after the tragic Boston Marathon bombing.
Someday in the near future, sports will play that same role again. Players will take the fields, the courts and the rinks, fans will file into their seats, and a game — a real, live sports game — will begin again.
The traditions we hold dear will return. The passing of time will again be marked by a ball hitting a bat, a player running into the endzone, the national anthem and the roars of the fans.
Chad Wylie is the Asst. Sports Editor. Follow him on Twitter @chadewylie