The world always changes, but this awful, eventful Year of the Coronavirus has been rapid-fire, man. I’d count the ways, but I’d leave out a hundred.
Presbyterian College hasn’t allowed fans to attend its basketball games. I guess I’m damn lucky to get to watch the games at Templeton Center at all, but it sure would be nice to talk to coaches Quinton Ferrell (men) and Alaura Sharp (women). Writing a game story without quotes makes me feel lazier than I already am. If I am wearing a mask, and the coach is wearing a mask, I think I should be allowed to talk to him or her.
This is going to have consequences. Somewhere along the line, I am going to write a game story, and the coach is going to say, “That’s not the way it happened at all,” and if I wrote what I saw, it’s going to be in part because I didn’t have the coach to ask about it.
I hope this is going to run its course before it gets that far “along the line.”
Brett Bielema is the head football coach at the University of Illinois. This morning I heard him say coaching was like the Kentucky Derby: “Everybody remembers the horse. Nobody remembers the jockey.”
This was a good example of fake humility. In college football, everyone remembers the jockey. I have nothing at all against Bielema. I have nothing at all for Bielema. He was good at Wisconsin, bad at Arkansas, and now he’s going back to the Big (really 12) 10 where he is comfortable. Sometimes there is a tendency to just nod one’s head and not think about what was said. Announcers keep telling me an empty stadium is “a tough place to play.”
Watching the Blue Hose play at the empty Templeton – and then looking at the photos I took – made me realize that the coronavirus will not always be vividly remembered, but it will be exploited. Thirty years from now, PC is going to have a good basketball season, someone is going to see a photo with an empty gym in the background and say, “People talk about how great the old days were. I looked at some photos from back around 2020, and nobody went to the games then.”
Next year a quarterback who has been phenomenal this year is going to throw four interceptions in a game and then say, “I can’t concentrate with all these fans here.”
Some good will come of this.
For years, a coach has answered a question of why he won’t play a burgeoning instate power by saying, “I’d love to play State Polytechnic A&M, but our schedule is set through 2029.” This year BYU “got up a game” at Coastal Carolina on a Wednesday, played it on a Saturday, and it may have been the best college football game of the year.
I watched Presbyterian play back-to-back Big South women’s games against Gardner-Webb this week and think it’s a good idea. To borrow baseball cliches, the Blue Hose won the opener and the Bulldogs bounced back to take the nightcap. After taking its lumps on Wednesday, G-W played with renewed determination on Thursday. I think the practice would increase enthusiasm. It will breathe life into communities. Teams will stay overnight and inject some life into the local economy. Fans, too, once they’re allowed again.
I covered a game every night this week. Caleb Gilbert also covered a game on two of them. That means I’ve been up late working on the photos – choosing, cropping, lightening, darkening – and writing the stories. Then all day I have been trying to keep up with this game being postponed, that one being canceled and some other one being added. I’m tired. I’m still behind. As the ballgames dwindle over the next couple weeks, it will be a perfect time to catch up.
This sports website began without the benefit of sports. Even without games to watch, always there are stories to write.