COURTSIDE WITH COACH EDMONDS: Sports, one year later

The images of empty stadiums and sports venues is something that we as sports fans have unfortunately become accustomed to this past year.

Virtually empty ballparks, arenas and gymnasiums are what have been imposed on us as we fight this terrible disease, the Coronavirus. In todays Courtside with Coach Edmonds, I wanted to look back on how it’s affected us as fans, as coaches, myself as journalist and other ways that my life (as well as the lives of so many) have been impacted these past 365 days and (hopefully) what we have learned about how important sports are and why it just may have saved many of us this past calendar year.

Sports have a way of allowing us to “escape” the day-to-day grind of “working” trying to provide for our families and “playing” the best way that we can without injury.

The iconic hip/hop rapper Tupac put it this way when he was describing his day-to-day grind trying to make it daily “I’m trying to make a dollar out of fifteen cents.” Though he was referring to getting his “hustle on,” in this day and age aren’t we ALL trying to do the very same thing? Sports allows us to live vicariously through the talents of others while we sit and imagine how things could have been different if we’d just not quit that high-school team some 25-30 years ago.

Personally, this past year has allowed me to start the quest of becoming a journalist, writer, columnist (or whatever you’re called when you put your thoughts towards pen to paper). I’ve learned a lot about myself and see the improvement in my writings as each piece is critiqued and dissected by those that read it. I enjoy sports, and for all that I feel I’ve given, it’s given me more in return and made me grateful (in an unusual way) that this pandemic slowed me down to find new avenues to explore. Having sports to retreat to has allowed us to heal and appreciate the gifts that God has spread through-out those we enjoy viewing.

So here we are one year later and we’re still feeling the aftershocks of “what was” in regards to sports and still trying to find our rightful place as we move about in the “Age of the pandemic.

It’s interesting, the things that we often took for granted, such as going to NCCA football games (and tailgating) attending our favorite NBA arena, or (making this really personal) going to a Tin Caps game, was replaced by new items such as walking alone or with your family, going to a park – after the chains were taken off and it was reopened – and sharing a swing after you made sure it was disinfected.

Be honest, how many of you dug out that old bicycle that you haven’t ridden in years or were even able to BUY one in your local city after the mad rush to purchase bikes went through the roof, I was shocked!

Now, some of what was lost, or stopped, has started to come back over this past year. The use of mask-wearing and enforcement of social distancing are common in today’s world but is today’s sports viewing our “new” normal or are we heading back to the “good ole’ days?”

Some say that sports might never look “normal” again.  Sports staples such as Little League baseball, travel soccer, basketball and volleyball were all put on hold due to parents not feeling that their children will be safe if they participated and the constant fighting and bickering over masks wearing just became too much.

Okay, so with all this being said, the question I ask is: “What have we learned in this past year that can help us moving forward?”

Well, we have learned new terms, such as bubble, social distancing, droplets  and 25% capacity. We have learned how to trade a fist bump for a handshake, and why open water fountains, concession stands, and sharing a water bottle may not be in your best interests currently. I feel that we ALL have learned why wearing a mask may have just saved your life this past year – though I’m sure many of you may disagree and that’s okay too. In all honesty I hope that what we’ve learned is that we NEED sports to find balance in our lives. Whether you’re a casual observer or the most rabid fan, sports play a huge part in our lives daily and the pandemic allowed us to find our former “athletic selves” once again.

There were more people hiking, camping and riding bikes than ever before in an effort to break the stress of “working from home” walking the proper “arrowed” direction as we shopped or sitting at every OTHER seat when we dined. It was an explosion of outdoor fun, but this too came with a cost. Gyms and fitness facilities closed down and surveys showed that kids were spending six and a half hours less per week playing sports than before the pandemic according to the Aspen Institute.

What this past year should have taught us it that we all need some sort of physical activity to keep our bodies and minds healthy as we try to navigate the waters of COVID-19. And like it or not, get used to being asked the questions: Have you washed your hands? Where’s your mask? Maybe the “new normal” was long overdue.

Keith Edmonds is a 32-year veteran of teaching and school administration from Fort Wayne. He coached boys high school basketball as an assistant at Snider High School, North Side High School and was the head boys basketball coach at Elmhurst High School for 12 years, advancing to the Class 3A State championship in 2003. Courtside with Coach Edmonds will appear every Monday at Outside the Huddle. These opinions represent those of the writer. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. 

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