I woke up Tuesday morning to what seemed like a normal day as a college student in Iowa. Yes, the coronavirus had made it’s way to Johnson County and the University of Iowa was going to virtual classes after Spring Break, but nothing seemed that out of the ordinary.
That’s when it all began to unravel.
That was when collegiate conferences and professional sports leagues began to go through the discussion of not allowing fans into their arenas. The coronavirus was (and still is) expanding by the day.
While it didn’t spook me, it definitely began to catch my attention more and more.
Wednesday began as business as usual too, I was slated to cover the Iowa-Kansas baseball game at Duane Banks Field. Covered the game and it appeared like a normal day, solid crowd for a chilly game in March and a game in which Iowa won 3-1.
Little did I know, it was likely the last Iowa sporting event I’d cover in the 2019-2020 school year. An Iowa athletic year with so much that I and so many others had enjoyed and yet still so much to look forward to.
But, like the Don Henley song goes: In a New York Minute, everything can change.
The Golden State Warriors were the first to make the call of playing without fans until further notice. The NBA as a whole followed suit, as did every NCAA Conference Tournament. The sentiment wouldn’t last long however.
Just prior to tipoff between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Utah Jazz, the game was delayed…and eventually canceled.
The reason? Jazz Center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus.
Five minutes hadn’t passed until the bombshell announcement that no one had ever seen before came down the wire:
The NBA season was officially suspended. No timetable had been announced.
Another scare hit closer to home was the sight of Nebraska head coach and former Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg looking very ill on the sideline of Nebraska’s Big Ten Tournament game. It was later found out that it simply influenza A. But, with the events that had transpired throughout the day, I assumed the worst, as did many others.
My head was spinning by the amount of news that had broke over the course of the day. This news would be a lot of anyone to take, especially a 21-year old kid like myself. But it was only the tip of the iceburg.
I went to bed Wednesday night in a mood that I hadn’t had in a long team: Fear. Fear of what tomorrow may bring. Fear of what this virus would do to a world that my life essentially revolves around, the world of sports.
I woke up this Thursday to the news that essentially all of the remaining conference tournaments were canceled. The NCAA Tournament was in definite limbo. We had officially entered the Twilight Zone.
As I made the two-and-a-half hour drive back home to Madrid, news continued to break as if a national tragedy the magnitude of Pearl Harbor or September 11th had occurred. But it wasn’t a national tragedy, it’s a nation trying to prevent tragedy.
College kids like me aren’t readily equipped to handle something as big as the coronavirus, we’re still just kids. The frustration student-athletes across America have about the cancellation of spring sports, I can’t fault them and neither should older generations. Lord knows that the older generations didn’t think very rationally when they were our age.
I’m not sure I’d ever been more happy and relieved to see the “Madrid” sign in my life. I was back home, amongst friends and family, those who loved me and who appeared to be going about life with a business as usual approach.
I walked out of my grandparents house from dinner to the sun setting over Madrid. For what felt like an eternity, but was really only a second or two, a sense of normalcy fell over me. I felt like it was any other day back home, but as soon as I checked my phone, I was back in this new, unknown reality we currently sit in.
It’s going to be a long time before we get back to normal in this country, solely based off of the results we are seeing from other countries such as China and South Korea, who have dealt with this issue longer than we have. But it will happen, this is America. We make it out of these things stronger, we’ve done it since 1776.
But for now, for me? It’s perhaps a time of exploring something new. My life for 21 years has revolved around sports: not cars, not reality TV, but sports. Maybe I’ll try to pick up an instrument or read a new book.
What might we wake up to tomorrow? Who knows at this point, it’s becoming a guessing game. I’ll do my best to process it and move on from it.
This has been hard for me, and I fear the worst is still yet to come. But, I won’t let it stop me from living my life. It shouldn’t stop you either.