Monday Morning Quarterback
What a weird weekend it was.
Usually, during the third weekend of March, like the rest of you, I would be watching basketball. Then on Sunday evening, we all would sit down and watch the NCAA Tournament Selection Show.
However, this past weekend, I was watching HBO. There was no college basketball. There was no selection show. There were no sports. The sad thing is, unless you did like I did yesterday afternoon and shot basketball in your driveway, there is no sports today, tomorrow, next week and who knows for how long.
Our world, the sports world bubble that has protected and distracted most of us for many years, has been shut down for an indefinite amount of time. The coronavirus pandemic has done something not even World War II, the Vietnam War and 9/11 could, it has completely shut down the sports world.
First it was the NBA, and then everyone else followed. Last Wednesday and Thursday became the craziest 36 hours I have witnessed in my 23 years as a sportswriter.
I started Wednesday morning doing what I have been doing a lot during my career. I was covering the ACC Basketball Tournament. This was the year college basketball’s best conference tournament was back home. It was back in Greensboro, where it should stay in my humble opinion, and it was supposed to be a crazy tournament.
This year was a little different than most because I already knew, if Clemson won or lost, I was headed back to Clemson for at least one day to cover Clemson’s Pro Day on Thursday. Clemson won, beating Miami in the opening game of the second-round, setting up a quarterfinal matchup with Florida State on Thursday.
So, it was already weird that Clemson won an ACC Tournament game and I was headed back to Clemson. We had someone covering Thursday’s game and if Clemson won, I would be back in Greensboro on Friday evening for the semifinals.
But as I got back into Clemson Wednesday night, everything, one by one, started to shut down. Like the rest of you, I watched as the “Breaking News” started to roll in. I thought to myself, “Surely, this will not affect the ACC Tournament or the NCAA Tournament.” But I was living in denial.
I got up Thursday morning thinking this whole coronavirus thing will blow over by the end of the weekend and we will all go back to our regularly scheduled lives by Monday. So, I headed off to cover Clemson’s Pro Day, and as we were interviewing players who had finished their workouts in front of NFL teams, word came down that Clemson moved to online classes through the end of March. Shortly after that, the ACC removed Clemson and Florida State from the court in Greensboro and canceled the rest of its basketball tournament.
The league later announced it was suspending all athletic games, gatherings and practices until further notice. By Thursday evening, the NCAA announced it was canceling all winter and spring championships, including the NCAA Basketball Tournaments, baseball’s College World Series and softball’s College World Series.
Just like that the 2019-’20 college sports year was over … three months earlier than expected. On Sunday evening, Clemson officially suspended the Orange & White Spring Game when it announced all university events, including the spring game, which was set for April 4, had been suspended until April 5.
Like many of you, I spent all weekend at home, trying to get my head wrapped around of all this. If you are reading this column, you are a sports fan like I am, and you really don’t know what to do with some of your free time.
Since I was old enough to remember and being that I come from the generation when ESPN first began, I have always been able to turn on the television and watch some kind of sporting event.
Sports has been shut down, and though there are a lot more things going on here that are more important, sports were the one thing we could count on to get us through the tough times. To get our minds off, for just a little while, what’s going on in the world.
The coronavirus has done something nothing else has ever done. It has infected our “sports bubble.” It broke through our protected barriers and it shut sports down without any warning.
So, please don’t take what is going on with this virus lightly. Stay in touch with what is happening and what you need to do to stay healthy and protect your family. Stay safe during this trying time and hopefully, sooner rather than later, we will get all of our sports back.
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