Virus Shuts Down Public Life
The coronavirus pandemic has shutdown public life.
We are incubated into our homes and isolating ourselves from others.
We need to take severe precautions and do everything within our power to defeat the spread of this virus.
That is why it was a brilliant and frankly forward-thinking move on the part of the major sports leagues to suspend their seasons.
The NBA took the lead, and everyone else followed.
While fans are understandably upset that their leagues stripped away their precious time watching a game on TV or in person, let us not forgot that our favorite athletes are still human. They are not immune from this virus, as is evident by the recent diagnosis of several athletes and coaches, as listed here by CBS Sports.
This recent public health emergency has given us space and time to reflect on what is most important.
Our safety, our health, our well-being, and that of others is more important than the most recent highlights, what Cinderella story will come out of March Madness, or that Tom Brady is finally finished.
That should be the case not only during this period of crisis but every day.
We are a sports-obsessed society; we all know that.
Sports is a microcosm of the real world.
It can bring out the best in who we are.
The diversity that makes up our country can make up the faces in the crowd.
That is also certainly the case when athletes rally around each other during moments of sheer despair, dedication, grief, glory, tragedy, and triumph.
As well as a call to action in the face of injustice.
Sports can also bring out the worst in us.
The resurgence in socio-political conflicts on the international stage.
The hyper-aggressive behaviors on the part of athletic figures that people replicate in everyday life.
The militarization of sports culture.
The over-indulgence of fan culture that puts lives in danger.
The hyper-commodification of athletes that strips them of their humanity.
The financial exploitation of student-athletes.
All of this can be true and are not competing claims.
We must take this time to put this into perspective.
We take sports for granted and not take enough time to evaluate its meaning.
We should also go back to the original point that athletes are as human as everyone else.
They deserve during this time the space to recuperate.
The time to be with their families.
The time for self-care.
The time to think about their futures outside of athletics.
Virus Devastates Student-Athletes
That is especially true for the student-athletes whose seasons were cut short.
These cancellations were undoubtedly devastating blows to them, the seniors in particular.
While the NCAA took the necessary step to grant an extra year of eligibility, there are still many high school seniors who are not able to finish their seasons.
Some are probably struggling with how they move forward now when their lives have been associated strictly with athletics.
This situation can have a detrimental effect on their emotional and mental health.
Now is the time to ensure that coaches, counselors, parents, social workers, athletic directors, and administrators rally around these athletes and provide them with all the support that they need.
That can include anything from regular check-ins through phone calls, texts, zoom, facetime, and other virtual outlets.
They can provide resources and information through email.
Communication with advisors on what these athletes see in their futures when it comes to educational and career opportunities.
These short and long term strategies can be of great benefit.
The sports world goes well beyond what happens on the playing field and ESPN.
There are real lives and real people that make it what it is, and it is during this time that they need all the support they can get.
We have to continuously ask ourselves, what is most important?