During some of our darkest times, the moments and periods of sorrow and despair, sports has been a crutch, whether locally, nationally or internationally.
Very few of our prep athletes were born before the tragedy of 9/11, and none of them is old enough to remember the awfulness of that day. I have a decade on these kids, and I barely do.
One of the things I remember most, just as much as I remember sitting in Mr. Battrell’s fourth-grade classroom at Bradley West when he attempted to explain to a group of 9-year-olds what happened, was how much our country rallied together through sports.
My childhood idol, Derek Jeter, became even more immortalized by becoming Mr. November in the 2001 World Series. The NFL rallied with paid patriotism we since have learned actually was kind of gross, but there’s no doubt football officially became America’s 21st century pastime in the weeks after the tragedy.
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 sportsless society at the moment.
Not only are we without sports, we’re without several crutches. Live music is on hold. Art galleries, movie theaters, live theatre. 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.
Kankakee and several other boys basketball teams saw their seasons end prematurely last week. Now, spring sports are up in the air to happen at all. I can’t even comprehend how much heartbreak that is causing our prep athletes. It certainly is going to make for a weird time for our sports staff, 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.