By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer
It just stopped. Everything just, kind of, stopped. I suppose there was a warning; we should have expected something like this to come, but nothing could have prepared us for something as dire as a world without sports.
Sports are one of the best escapes from the real world. People rely on sports to get away from the troubles in their lives, whether it’s hard times at work or at school or at home. Men and women have routinely gotten home, flipped on ESPN, and relaxed while “Sportscenter” or a game subdue their worries.
To add insult to injury, the sports world came to a screeching halt just as it was picking up. The NBA was on the final straightaway as it headed towards the playoffs. Spring Training for the MLB had just gotten underway. Golf was in the midst of its first major of the season and The Masters were just a month away.
And maybe the biggest heartbreaker of all is the cancellation of March Madness. Baylor finished No. 3 and No. 4 in the women’s and men’s AP polls, respectively. Fivethirtyeight gave the two squads a combined 27% chance to win at least one title, better than all but one school in the country.
The baseball team had just swept through the Shriner’s Classic in Houston, including ranked wins over Louisiana State and Arkansas. Softball was 19-5 before their season stalled, and redshirt senior pitcher Gia Rodoni was on her way to an All American-level season. Even men’s golf and tennis had been on a tear.
Now it’s quiet. Not even club sports or the recreation center are in use. Athletes can’t practice on campus or meet in facilities. Coaches can’t even recruit until mid-April. Nothing of the world we love is left. Nothing but speculation and top-ten lists and reruns of the greatest games of all time until this hiatus is over.
I rely on sports for a job, but more importantly I rely on sports to maintain my sanity. As the NBA season unexpectedly paused last Wednesday and the NCAA followed suit the following day, I was on a trip with my family. Over the next several hours, they became more annoyed with me than I’d ever seen as I descended into madness as my safe haven was torn away from me.
It’s not just a pastime or a hobby or something frivolous to be used and thrown away like a tissue. Sports are my happy place, and I simply don’t know how to keep it up without them.
I’m going to be honest: I’ve had a lot of trouble writing since this news came down. Trying to organize my thoughts throughout this pandemonium has not been easy. But in times of trouble, it’s important to hold onto the things that keep you at peace, and that doesn’t begin to describe how much I love what I get to do at the Lariat.
As a sports community, we are going to need to hold on together over these next few months. Yes, it will probably be a few months until we get to see professionals on fields and courts again, but once they are back we will rejoice and cheer and be even more thankful for this wonderful institution than we ever were before.