2020 has been a crazy year…I bet you’ve heard that statement hundreds of times.
Who knew face masks could become a fashion statement? Amidst the colorful and sometimes humorous masks, it has become more difficult to recognize acquaintances in crowded stores. So, often we find it easier to avoid them. Reading people’s emotions and communicating through a mask creates frustration. Maybe your kid is just starting college, and they have been forced to stay home and attend classes though a computer screen. Our front line workers have been spending countless exhausting hours trying to get this virus under control, and the most that we can do to help them is stay home. Often we may feel helpless, and it is hard to picture a world where everything goes back to normal. Amidst all of the uncertainty and change, sports give us a glimpse of normalcy.
For the first time ever, the NBA created a Bubble to finish out the remainder of the 2019-20 season. Playing sports amidst a global pandemic may have seemed impossible early this year, but the collaboration between researchers, scientists, engineers, and politicians to distribute tests and create a safe environment allowed this to happen for the NBA within months.
Following the NBA’s Bubble, other professional sports leagues returned to play. The amount of testing facilitated within teams created a safer environment, despite the fact that Bubble’s were no longer being used. Although there were some bumps in the road, whether it be postponements, certain players having to quarantine, or total cancellations, safety has always remained a priority. In the NFL, for instance, all of the quarterbacks for the Denver Broncos were forced to quarantine, resulting in a wide receiver from the practice team stepping into the position. Kendall Hinton will surely remember this moment for years to come.
College athletes may have been impacted the most by the pandemic. Not only were many seasons cancelled or postponed, but the social aspect of the college experience was no longer. Most in-person classes were pushed to remote learning, and large group gatherings were prohibited. With last year’s March Madness being cancelled for the first time ever, the NCAA has made an effort to safely give these athletes an opportunity to compete during the 2020-21 season. Despite the lack of fans in the gyms, technology has created a normal experience for fans watching from home. The background noises of fans cheering sometimes makes us forget about what’s going on in the world as we are so focused on the game. College football is coming close to completing its first season during a pandemic. Again, there have been some difficulties along the way, but the proper actions were taken with each circumstance. Similar to the instance within the Denver Broncos, the Vanderbilt football team lost all of its kickers due to quarantines. For the first time ever, a girl named Sarah Fuller from the Vanderbilt soccer team played in a college football game.
Although 2020 has been filled with changes, we have found ways to adapt to them. It has been a year of fear, anxiety, and anger, yet sports have allowed us to escape those emotions and experience some normalcy. Some of the most unique and unthought-of situations occurred in sports this year, and these stories will be told for generations to come. Once COVID-19 has passed, one thing is clear: we will cherish the times we get to spend with loved ones, going to restaurants and bars while conversing with an old friend, traveling the world to experience different cultures, and being in an atmosphere where you are surrounded by thousands of people to watch your favorite sports team.