Written by Rasheed Shabazz
The world has been turned upside down in just a matter of weeks. Many are still getting accustomed to what has become their new reality. Like all sports being canceled nearly simultaneously, leaving many sports fans in a void.
The NBA was the first professional sports league to go on hiatus after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 just days after touching every microphone after a press conference. Gobert’s actions were poking fun at the virus, with a “couldn’t be me” attitude.That was until it was him, and now it has been a lot of us. This was a mindset shared by most people, now 1 in 5 Americans personally know someone with the virus.
The moment the NBA announced their hiatus, fans went through a cycle of emotions. Some took their frustrations out on Gobert on social media, some crowning him as the Undisputed Defensive Player of the Year. Omari Fabor, an Oswego State alumni and NBA fan recalls his first reaction to the announcement.
“At that point I was concerned because coronavirus wasn’t as big an issue at the time. At that point, the lockdown hadn’t happened yet. I thought Gobert, along with other people, didn’t take it seriously and tried to joke around during the press conference. That rubbed many people the wrong way and I can see why,” said Fabor.
With the world on pause, sports fans are finding themselves with more time to immerse themselves in new hobbies.
“Recently I’ve been watching a lot of hunting videos. I’ve never even thought about hunting before but after this is over. I’d love to go hunting for some game and go fishing,” said Mark Santiago, a former Oswego State student.
It is likely that all sports going on hiatus was bound to happen eventually. As the ban of public gatherings and the enforcement of social distancing would soon make sporting events impossible. On the bright side, one of the beautiful things about sports is there are endless highlights for fans to relive. Santiago says it’s basketball highlights that keep him hopeful.
“I’ve been watching old highlights from my favorite players. I recently went back and watched when Carmelo Anthony scored his career high 62 points in Madison Square Garden. I also went way back and watched the Game 7 alley-oop that Kobe Bryant threw to Shaq right over Scottie Pipen’s head. Although people don’t, it’s moments like these that live forever,” said Santiago.
Companies such as ESPN, Bleacher Report and others find themselves in tough spots. With no live games occuring, they’ve been experimenting with new ways to keep fans intrigued. ESPN has aired a range of content, from NBA 2K tournaments, Wrestlemania 35 to the 1997 Masters.
As of now, Bleacher Report has redrafted just about every NBA draft class of the last decade. Their live streams of Madden football simulations have become a hit amongst fans. Sports fans are finding themselves having discussions that they never thought they would have. Like which trio would you rather have with the game on the line, Brady, Welker and Edelman, or Eli, OBJ and Plaxico? I think we all know the answer to that.
It’s no question that sports are a huge part of fans’ lives. Sports bond us together, it gives us something to talk about, something to pour our hearts into. It gives us hope which is crucial in a time like now where hope seems nonexistent. For many, it is motivation to keep pushing and stay optimistic. Although there is no way to know when, eventually we will have our sports and lives back.