Rogers Hornsby, the Hall of Fame second baseman who played primarily with the St. Louis Cardinals a century ago, once said people would often ask him what he did during the offseason when there was no baseball.
“I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring,” he’d reply.
Well, with the warmer weather now seemingly settling in, the effects of spring are finally here. In a sense, we’re all looking out the window now, hoping for that return to normal times. But baseball, and all sports for that matter, will take longer to arrive.
With the need for social distancing, more widespread testing and a concern for groups greater than 10 people congregating in the same place, we’ve had to do without some of this country’s greatest distractions, both for athletes and for fans.
We miss the crack of the bat, the cheer of the crowd and even those trips to the concession stands for a hot dog or some popcorn. There’s something about the nation’s pastime that takes us back to those simpler, lazier days of summer.
As we’re all finding in this new COVID-19 world, nothing is simple. Despite the glimmer of hope we saw this weekend when spectator-less golf and auto racing returned to television, we’re probably at least a month away from professional sports returning from its unplanned timeout. As for the return of our Frederick Keys, the question may not be when, but if. We’re likely looking at a shortened major league season with no fans in the stands, so the chances of a minor league season are growing dimmer.
Yet truth be told, we’re not saddened as much about the loss of games played by millionaires on teams owned by billionaires, as we are about the hundreds of thousands of kids nationwide who may lose the chance to play organized sports this spring and summer. Coupled with the possibility of no on-campus classes this fall, we could be looking at no high school or college sports for the rest of the year.
For sports junkies, this void has been difficult. During tough times, people turn to sports as a distraction. But we also think of sports as much more than just entertainment. Sports have so much to offer today’s youth. In addition to the benefits of staying active, sports teach teamwork, discipline, respect and good sportsmanship. Not to mention, sports are fun.
We realize there are many more important things to be concerned about. The coronavirus is still proving lethal, and there are about 37 million people who have become unemployed since the beginning of March. Sports, and so many other things, are taking a backseat to what’s going on in the world. And rightfully so.
But just as we look forward to the days of returning to restaurants and libraries and the rest of what we used to call “normal” life, we’re looking forward to that day when we can sit in the stands and cheer for our team. Let’s hope that’s soon.