Hulne: One crazy week has had a huge effect on sports and life
Last week is, without a doubt, the strangest week I have ever experienced.
It began with me doing playoff previews for three area boys basketball teams — Austin, Blooming Prairie, Hayfield — that were all pumped up for a chance to get into in a state tournament that was canceled by Friday.
It ended with me standing in Austin High School on Friday, watching what remained of the Packer boys basketball team sobbing in Ove Berven Gym as dozens of AHS track and field athletes ran free through the hallways, preparing for a spring season that is now in serious doubt.
In an unprecedented move, the NBA, NHL and MLB all put their season on hold and the NCAA has shut down all of its sports. Most of these moves came shortly after a Jazz center Rudy Gobert contracted the COVID-19 virus, the culprit in all of these happenings. To make things even more strange, Gobert had apparently been jokingly placing his hands on just about every object and teammate he could find in the weeks leading up to his infection.
I could not make any of these things up.
It takes a lot for professional sports leagues to shut down their operations and it’s not something they do lightly. There have been only four times where the MLB, NFL, NBA or MLB did not crown a champion.
The MLB didn’t finish the season in 1994 due to a labor dispute and the same thing happened to the NHL in 2005. In 1904, the MLB didn’t crown a world series champion because the New York Giants refused to play the Boston Americans, claiming they came from a superior league. In 1919, the Spanish Flu ended the NHL finals five games into the series. Many of the Canadiens had contracted the disease and defenseman George Kennedy died just four days after the series ended, so I guess you could say things were pretty dire.
It’s been a long time since we’ve had to go without sports in this country and it will be a struggle for many of us. But that’s just one of the many changes on the horizon.
Along with the pausing of our sports fandom, we will also have to learn to part with concerts, museums, restaurants, taverns and social gatherings.
A lot of people are feeling afraid. A lot of people are feeling frustrated.
When our methods of entertainment begin to slip away, it is natural to feel cornered or angry, especially if things continue to worsen over the upcoming months.
It would be easy to fall into the trap of staring down strangers at the grocery store because they have too much toilet paper or soap in their cart, but we need to stay positive in these times.
If we can’t be where we love, be with who we love.
After the shock and haze of last week’s happenings had sunk in, I used Saturday to play backyard football and basketball with my son Hayden, who is in fourth grade, and a pair of my brothers, who are both adults. The quality of play was nowhere near you would see in any respectable sporting event that charges fans money to get in, but we had the time of our lives. There was a lot of smiling and a little laughing.
Most importantly, we all received a break from the stressful world around us.
As we gradually break down into social isolation from the threat of the virus, we must all make sure we keep in touch with our humanity. The world will go on after this, but how we act during this trial will have a lot to say on what that world will look like.