Over the past few months, I have been mesmerized by the range of sports takes as it relates to COVID-19.
It has been tiring to say the least.
Sports are an interesting piece of our lives. Most of us have never played past high school. Only a select few are selected to go on to get paid to play the sport that they love.
So why do we have such a strong opinion about sports?
Could it be, that it’s those memories are the memories that we hold onto the most?
My father loves football. He played on the offensive line at Currituck in the late 70’s and early 80’s. He was a starter and all-conference performer on the 1980 Eastern Regional Championship team that lost to Sylva-Webster High School in the state championship.
To hear him talk of that time in his life, his eyes light up. Truthfully, to this day, when an offensive lineman comes up with a pancake block, he has a giggle of amusement that is truly unique.
I have a few favorite stories from my Dad’s playing time, but my favorite took place at Gumberry High School during his junior season.
Gumberry was a high school in Northampton County that eventually became Northampton East and with further consolidation, is now Northampton County High School. Gumberry had an interesting setup from what it sounded like, from a field that was slightly suspect, to a lighting suspect that ended up being the star of this contest.
Currituck was up big in the second half when during the middle of a play, the lights went completely out at the stadium. Not one set of lights. All of them.
Just imagine sitting at any high school football game and the lights all of a sudden going out. Now imagine you are in the country, with no streetlights or anything to help illuminate anything.
Oh, and the play was still going on.
Needless to say, some pandemonium broke out. However, the game was able to restart with some order after a Good Samaritan was able to rig the lighting system to allow the game to continue.
My dad also talks about Coach Sapp, who was the head coach at Currituck in those years and the impact that he had on his life. The lessons that Coach Sapp taught Dad were immeasurable and it’s a relationship he is still grateful for to this day.
Sports, for most of us, conjure up some of the best memories and some of the best mentors of our lives. When sports are threatened, it feels as though part of us is threatened.
Now for non-sports fans this makes zero sense. I understand that sentiment. However, we all hold on to a thing that provides us with positive memories. When that institution that provided those memories is threatened, we rally, have strong opinions, and mourn for those memories when that institution fades away.
That is what sports fans have been dealing with over the past four months. A lack of community. A lack of escape. For some of us, we have filled that with other pastimes. For some of us, we have had strong opinions about things and have mourned for a time when things were simpler, aka before March 12.
While baseball and basketball are coming back, there is a distinct possibility of high school and college sports taking longer to come back. If that were to happen, there would be an outpouring of opinions about that decision. However, I am willing to bet that all of those decision makers want to bring back their sports as soon as possible.
Because they are just like us. Those decision makers have memories and impacts that can directly be traced back to the athletic field. They don’t want to take away that opportunity from anyone else.
So maybe we should try something different.
Instead of getting upset, instead of having a loud opinion, maybe we should do something positive.
Give what you can to the team or entity that had an impact on you.
If our high schools can’t have football, that’s going to put a major dent into their operating budget for all of their other sports.
Send what you can to the local high school booster club. Send a note to a coach or mentor and thank them for what they did for you. Turn that disappointment into something that can make a difference for our area.
Maybe, just maybe, that will help to ease the pain and make us all the more grateful when sports, as we know it, come back.