The most common complaint that critics bring up to sports fans is that sports are pointless. Sports mean nothing. If our favorite teams win, nothing really changes for us. Same if they lose. If all sports were gone tomorrow, the world would hardly notice (aside from a few multi-billion-dollar companies disappearing). People would go on with their lives, the world would still turn on its axis, and the sun would still rise and set just as it does now. Nothing would be different.
And to tell you the truth, this sports fan knows that. I know that all sports are essentially pointless and occupy too much of my time, and I could do other things with the time I devote to them. I know this, and I know the world knows this, and that is perfectly okay — because I know that sports do more than provide mindless entertainment. It’s a cliché (this piece will be littered with them, don’t you worry) but sports offer a sense of community and identity. They are a rallying point in times of trouble and a chapel of memory in times of grace. They are a great congregation of people with different backgrounds, different nationalities, and different races that come together under the banner of sport. And it is a welcome sign.
But in this public health crisis, in which COVID-19 has disrupted everything in our daily lives from the way we shop to the way we work to the way we learn, sports are nowhere near important — far from it. That’s why I applaud leagues from around the world for suspending their seasons and thus flattening the curve of exposure to the virus. It could have come sooner, and personally I think it should have happened sooner, but leagues had to balance out the positions of their employees in arenas, training facilities, and administration; teams had to sort out paying them and offering them proper benefits in this uncertain time period.
And this exact moment is where sports would normally step in and provide a reprieve from the pandemonium. This is a time in which sports would usually offer a distraction from the global issues around them, but right now, it can’t. This time around, the way for sports to help is to go away for a while. And I know this reads like a sappy letter to something you love, and that’s because it is.
Sports will return. It’s just halftime, folks.