I realize with the coronavirus pandemic ongoing, there are more important topics than sports.
I texted a friend in Beckley to check on him the other day and he said he’s yet to flip on ESPN since the pandemic started.
Wish I could say that.
I turn on the Worldwide Leader in Sports daily, almost desperate, looking for any sports news nugget to chew on.
Like many, I pay close attention to what’s going on with the pandemic. Joni, my significant other, claims I watch too much.
But when I go looking for my beloved sports now, all I see are replays. And it saddens me.
See, I’m one of those people who reads a book then gives it away. I don’t keep it because I’ll never read it again. I’ve tried. But a few pages in, I’ll remember the plot, the ending. I don’t read books again. I don’t watch movies a second time.
I need the suspense. And now I need the suspense more than ever because I am staying in. I’m trying to follow the guidelines. My brother-in law is on the front lines. I see what’s happening.
Yet I know the sports world can’t resume.
Believe me, I’ve rolled it around this bald head a million times. Which sport could resume to give us respite?
The best I can come up with is golf, but only if there is no crowd. And why would you stage a tournament without patrons if you own the course? For the golfers? For the PGA Tour, which receives the television money?
Maybe tennis, if the balls are destroyed after every point. NASCAR? Certainly not baseball or basketball considering the contact involved.
Oh, and I tried, by the way, to contact WVU athletic director Shane Lyons about the situation. If you think he’s been kicking back on the sofa, well, guess again. He’s been swamped with conference calls. He’s been swamped with interview requests. In fact, he told me today he’s decided to hold a teleconference with the media on Wednesday to appease all the requests.
It’s been a whirlwind for Lyons within the hurricane that’s the coronavirus.
Yet give Lyons and those in the Big 12 credit. They’ve handled it responsibly.
Back on March 13, for instance, Lyons commented on the league’s decision to cancel the spring competition season.
“The announcement,” Lyons said, “is certainly disappointing but also a necessity. We must take all precautions to ensure the health and safety of the league’s universities, student-athletes and communities. All team activities have also been suspended until March 29 and then will be re-evaluated by the Big 12. The events of the past week have brought much sadness to our student-athletes, coaches and fans, but we must do our part to keep everyone safe.”
Of course, that was followed by the Big 12’s decision to extend its suspension from March 29 to May 31 of all team activities whether organized or voluntary. The suspension includes team and individual practices, meetings and other organized gatherings. The suspension will be re-evaluated regularly and revisited or adjusted as circumstances dictate.
Now the Big 12 is following suit with other Power 5 leagues in allowing virtual sessions with student-athletes. (Did anyone buy Zoom stock a few months back?) Film study, technical discussions, tactical sessions and other non-physical activities may take place virtually for two hours per week in all sports.
Then there was the dagger from Lyons: The Gold-Blue spring football game, slated for April 18 at Milan Puskar Stadium, is canceled.
“It’s disappointing for our players and fans that the Gold-Blue Spring Game is canceled. The game is the highlight of the spring for everyone,” said WVU coach Neal Brown. “These are very serious times, and this is the right decision. We need to do everything we can to protect our student-athletes, university, state and community. Last year’s spring game was a great day, and let’s work to bring the event back bigger and better next April.”
That’s the responsible response. And let’s hope normalcy is back next April.
Shoot, let’s hope it’s back in May.
Whatever the case, though, let’s mirror the Big 12, Lyons and Brown and act responsibly – so our sports can return at the earliest possible date.
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Mitch Vingle covered sports in West Virginia for 38 years. Follow Mitch on Twitter at @MitchVingle and be sure to check out the rest of Wheelhouse Creative’s website for your marketing and advertising needs. If interested, call us at 304-905-6005.