With Ohio still under a stay-at-home order, it’s important to check on the people important to you.
After more than a month without live sports, I think it might be wise to check in on my inner fan. Like fans of sports everywhere these days, he’s had to get creative, which is to say he’s not dealing with current events all that well …
Journalist Michael: You know that the fact you’ve led Bowling Green to 10 straight national championships on NCAA Football 14 doesn’t make it so in real life, right?
Fan Mike: I’m aware. But we’ve beaten Toledo by at least 40 every time we’ve played them.
JM: Right. Talk about fantasy football.
FM: Hey, you should just be happy I’m not upset we still only have and Xbox 360 at home.
JM: Sorry, bud. Covering actual games shouldn’t leave that much time for playing video games.
FM: Considering that ESPN is running programs on FIFA and League of Legends tournaments these days, I’d be tempted to consider playing video games a marketable skill.
JM: First, you know you’d waste those "skills" playing single-player games about history …
FM: The Civilization series is fun …
JM: Second, the majority of video game pros are 25 and under. The only time you had a video-game system before 25 that week our parents borrowed an Atari when you had chicken pox in the first grade.
FM: Thanks, mom.
JM: I’m just saying you using video games as anything more than entertainment is a laughable prospect.
FM: Well, entertainment is vital nowadays. I mean, I heard all the warnings in February about coronavirus being dangerous and things being bad. But anyone who says they could have seen it getting this bad is a liar.
JM: You mean as far as the shutdown goes?
FM: I mean the fact that life seems to be stuck in a stasis field for most people. For the ones who it’s not … well those are the ones that I’m REALLY worried about.
JM: I’m really scared about the folks on the front lines, too. Doctors, nurses, first responders, prison guards and even grocery store workers are pretty much at ground zero these days.
FM: Heck, man, we’ve got friends who’ve tested positive for the virus already. I’m sure just about everyone knows someone who has. It all makes sports almost seem petty to think about.
JM: I’ve felt that way a lot over the last month. That said …
FM: While acknowledging sports is not "essential," it’s like one of the biggest parts of whom I am is missing. The worst part is, if you listen to some health experts, it’s possible sports might be the LAST thing to return to normal.
JM: It kind of makes sense what you’re saying. Large crowds can be breeding grounds for communicable diseases.
FM: Look, i know it’s the right thing to do. I don’t want anyone to die because they went to a game. It’s that … every time I turn on the news, it seems the games get further away instead of closer.
JM: Well, a lot of that is the fact nobody seems to really know how long this pandemic will last.
FM: That’s just it. We went to the season opener for the Columbus Crew on March 1. I’ve got a horrible feeling that will be the last pro sporting event we attend live until 2021.
JM: Major League Baseball’s plans involved no-fan games for the moment. Major League Soccer’s postponed until at least June. The contingency plans for the NBA and NHL aren’t even set yet.
FM: Look, I’ve given up on anything until at least July, but even that could be too optimistic. Some analysts are already saying no football this season. Governors are saying they may not open venues to large crowds until late 2021.
JM: Ohio governor Mike DeWine hasn’t made any commitments that far ahead yet.
FM: But what if he does? That’s 18 months! A forced stoppage that long could kill any league that doesn’t have the cash reserves of the NFL.
JM: Take a deep breath.
FM: Sorry, it’s hard not to think of worst-case scenario sometimes.
JM: I know the feeling. I’ve never wanted to cover baseball in lousy weather more in my life. I could cry when I think about the seniors who got told at the 11th hour the state wrestling tournament was axed.
FM: What about fall?
JM: I’m in the same position you are: Hoping by mid-summer, this all is under control. Something tells me, though, that if there are restrictions on crowds, there could be no fans in the stands this fall as well.
FM: What would high school football be like without fans?
JM: Very unusual. The other half of the equation is that, if the threshold for a "large gathering" is defined as 100 people in fall, that eliminates football. For many schools, there could be 100 people on the field just between the two teams and coaches.
FM: Good grief. I’m scared.
JM: Trust me, if you’re not at least a little scared by current events, you’re not paying attention.
FM: Do you think we’ve last of high school sports in Ohio until 2021?
JM: I don’t know. Anyone who claims they does is lying. This is the biggest event in 21st century that we’re living through.
FM: Bigger than 9/11?
JM: Within a fortnight after 9/11, I was covering high school football games. I might not get that chance this fall.
FM: So, you see why I’m loathing the next few months?
JM: Yes. Sports can’t help everything, but it can help communities heal. I suspect we’re all going to need a lot of healing whenever this ends.